Lateral hiring: meaning, benefits and step-by-step process

Lateral hiring is an effective way to increase a company’s competitiveness by attracting strategic candidates. This type of recruitment focuses...
7 March 2024

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Lateral hiring: meaning, benefits and step-by-step process

Lateral hiring is an effective way to increase a company’s competitiveness by attracting strategic candidates.

This type of recruitment focuses on the development of a company’s human capital by incorporating highly qualified talent. Thanks to this, the organization can increase its competitiveness and productivity, thus increasing its value. 

To help you understand the meaning of lateral hiring, in this article we will discuss it, what are its benefits and how to implement it step by step.

Lateral hiring: meaning, benefits and step-by-step process

What is lateral hiring?

Lateral hiring is a type of recruitment that consists of attracting a candidate who is already working in a competitor’s company and offering him/her a position with responsibilities similar to those he/she is currently performing.

This type of talent selection process achieves the following objectives

  • Bring in people with the skills and competencies the organization needs and get them up and running quickly. 
  • Deliver immediate value and results. 
  • Develop critical projects that require specific skills not available in the organization. 
  • Reinforce a junior team that may have created a project but lacks the experience to be competitive.

From the above, here is another definition of lateral hiring in recruitment as the recruitment of an active expert to immediately take on strategic responsibilities for a company. 


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Challenges of lateral hiring in recruitment

Lateral hiring poses a number of challenges that can lead to financial loss if not properly addressed. Here are the major ones: 

  • Lack of clear definition of the job description, which creates false expectations in the candidate. 
  • Selection process not adapted to the type of profile to be recruited.
  • Lack of alignment between business needs and recruitment objectives. 
  • Inability to assess talent because the necessary tools are not available.
  • Weak employer branding that fails to attract talent.
  • Lack of an effective onboarding plan to quickly and successfully integrate the candidate. 

Benefits of lateral hiring 

The benefits of lateral hiring are numerous for companies, especially those in highly competitive industries: 

  • Increased efficiency. By hiring qualified candidates who are quickly integrated into projects, they increase the performance of departments. On the other hand, they require fewer training resources to successfully perform their tasks. 
  • Existing teams strengthening. Bringing in specialists with tactical skills improves team performance. On the other hand, it encourages the contribution of new ideas and different perspectives that increase the agility and quality of decision making.
  • A commitment to innovation. Having qualified talent on the job allows you to incorporate new roles that did not previously exist in the company, but are necessary for its evolution. 
  • Improved competitiveness. Talent and up-to-date industry knowledge give a company that chooses lateral recruitment a competitive edge.
  • Best talent attraction. The creation of efficient and innovative teams of excellence makes a company more attractive to other talented profiles that are difficult to access under normal conditions. 
  • Resources optimization. Lateral hiring improves teams’ performance that achieve faster results by reducing the resources used thanks to greater efficiency. 

While it is true that lateral hiring offers significant benefits to companies, it can be a costly process that is difficult to afford for small projects. 

For this reason, it is crucial to develop a comprehensive HR strategy that considers short, medium and long-term results. 

It must also consider how to best integrate new talent into the company culture and how it can affect the dynamics of existing teams to avoid potential conflict. 

Lateral hiring is a type of recruitment that consists of attracting a candidate who is already working in a competitor's company

Lateral hiring process

If you want your lateral hiring to be successful, it needs to be integrated into a structured process, just like any other offline or online recruitment strategy.

To help you get started, here is a lateral hiring step-by-step process.

Identify your needs

Before starting a selection process, it is essential to identify exactly what your real needs and your objectives are, as well as what results you want to achieve with the new hire.

It is important to involve all departments that will be directly or indirectly affected by this new integration.

Identify your target candidate

Just as you would with a client, define who your ideal candidate is, what power skills he/she should have, where he/she is located and how you can entice him/her with your project. 

Add to this definition a study of your strengths and weaknesses as a recruiter in order to work on them. 

One of the most effective tools is the job description, in which you can include the candidate’s career plan to strengthen their long-term commitment. 

Define the selection strategy

The selection strategy plays an essential role in lateral hiring, as it is a process of passive prospecting of candidates, which can take the form of a list of potential profiles, for example.  

Bet on personalizing the process

Create a kind of action protocol that takes into account the contact channel, the content of the communication, the follow-up of the negotiations, the development of the interviews, etc. All this puts the candidate at the center of the process.

Always keep in mind that these are passive candidates, i.e. they are not looking for a job, which is a big challenge for recruitment.

Lateral hiring allows to attract strategic talent thanks to active and highly qualified candidates

Choose the best tools and methods

Another fundamental aspect is the selection of the tools to be used to develop your attracting talent project. These must be able to assess the candidate objectively. 

In this sense, technology can help you automate many parts of the selection process. 

Motivational interviewing can help you verify that the candidate is motivated to change. It allows you to address discrepancies and initiate a respectful negotiation process to all parties.

At Smowltech, we have been supporting our clients in their recruitment processes for years thanks to our proctoring plans, remote monitoring solutions that allow you to create a secure environment that respects the privacy of your candidates. Request a free demo and discover the innovative tools we can offer you.


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