A look at recruitment maestro Dan Caulfield's new idea to recruit from companies laying off senior-level employees.
When it comes to recruitment, Dan Caulfield is maestro, Machiavelli, and magician all rolled into one. Caulfield has founded four companies, two of which focus on employee placement. Now, as a senior manager at DareStep, the new Internet consulting arm of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Caulfield wields his hire powers on behalf of an employer determined to achieve triple-digit workforce growth this year.
Last fall Caulfield got a call from DareStep's global managing director. "He said, 'Dan, I want you to come up with a plan that will really blow out the way we recruit from these pure-play dot-coms," Caulfield recalls. So Caulfield assembled a list of 16 prominent competitors -- the Scients, Viants, and Proxicoms of the world. Then he composed a letter to their CEOs. The letter opened with empathy: DareStep understood that sagging Internet prospects were forcing companies to reorganize and that reorganizations generally forced out some senior people. Dare- Step wanted to help companies give those departing executives a soft landing. Then came a proposal: If you refer all of your departing executives to DareStep, DareStep will take you off its head-hunting list. "We made it very clear," says Caulfield. "We're willing to work with them, but if they're not willing to work with us, we're going to recruit from them like hell."
Three of the targets took Caulfield up on his offer immediately, and within the following months DareStep provided a new home for 50 employees. He then combed his company's database for employees of the uncooperative organizations who had previously inquired about employment at DareStep. There were more than 250 such people, and Caulfield's staff called them all -- and, at the end of those conversations, asked each of them to refer other likely candidates. "You'd be amazed what a person will do to help a recruiter," he says.
Meanwhile, Caulfield's outside recruiters aggressively researched senior managers at those same businesses. "We'd tell them we had every intention of recruiting them away from their company," says Caulfield. "Overwhelmingly people have fallen over themselves to get into our interviewing process."
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan