Poaching & Promoting

It’s the new job search game … poach a qualified candidate and then leave the poached company to promote from within. Well, maybe not “new” as much as today it comes with different rules.

Take, for example, the recent poaching by Stryker of the Dentsply CFO. And the internal promotion of its COO to CFO (not a common promotion, is it?). So what exactly is new about this “Poach and Promote” strategy?


It benefits, and greatly favors, the passive candidate. Greatly favors. As in, it took Stryker 6 months to fill its opening … and you can bet they waited -patiently- to lure away the “right” CFO. Waited to poach rather than hire the many unemployed, readily available CFOs that were undoubtedly knocking at its door.

The concept of poaching isn’t new, it’s always been the “feather in the cap” of top-notch recruiters. What is new is the dichotomy of the job search process … 6 candidates for every one opening. Ready and available, albeit unemployed, CFOs who are routinely passed over in favor of hiring – poaching – someone who is employed and perceived as somehow being a major hiring coup.

There is a perceived, and therefore very real, value around being employed, visible, and marketable.

New Rule: While not a new rule in the context of my blog posts and evangelizing, but perhaps new in terms of actually nudging you to take action … leverage your passive positioning long before you intend to make a move. If you’re currently unemployed, begin positioning yourself for your next move as soon as you land. Passive candidates have greater appeal, and that isn’t changing anytime soon.


Promoting from within isn’t new either, although promoting an operations guy to a Chief Financial Officer role isn’t exactly the norm.

The challenge with effective internal promotions is ensuring that the company has a career succession plan in place, and that the plan is being executed. For most companies, that’s often not an actionable top priority … at least until it becomes a need.

A recent Russell Reynolds study on career patterns of Fortune 100 CFOs and a Volatility Study from Crist Kolder on Fortune 500 and S&P 500 Companies showed that …

— There are vast pay economies among internal and external hires, with internal hires falling into the bottom 25% of compensation packages.

— While 69% of Fortune 100 CFOs were promoted internally, on average they waited a very long time for that promotion. Statistics cited were that well over half had 11 years of tenure while 41% had 20+ years with their companies.

— Of the “heir apparents,” meaning they were the #2, only 15% had 5 or less years of experience when promoted into the top slot.

New Rule: It might be a safer move, but it will undoubtedly be a longer move and overall compensation may not be competitive with making an external opportunity.

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1 thought on “Poaching & Promoting”

  1. Hi Cindy,

    While I am sure you will get a better compensation package when jumping from ship to ship the question is really when is the right time to jump ship? When do you know you have maximized your value in your current position (assuming that you at the same time are marketable to companies/recruiters)? And most importantly how do you know when you have stayed too long at one place meaning your value is actually decreasing if you don’t make an immediate move?



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