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So, my current company is a supplier of company A. I came across a position in company A that interests me.

However, that division in A is the one my current employer is supplying for, and what's worse, as an engineer I have been working with people from company A for some time so they (for sure one or two contact person) remember me. Even if they don't, they will know from my job history "current employer" section...

Should I apply for company A or not? Does it mean you have to avoid any companies that is closely related to your current employer?

To add more information: no NDA or non competitive agreement signed, just a normal at will hire.

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    Did you signed a NDA or Non Competition Agreement? Some of them restrict you from working with your current company clients, for a period of time, if you decided to leave. – DarkCygnus Oct 4 '17 at 20:51
  • Could you add your country and/or state? Country and/or state regulations may affect our answers – Old_Lamplighter Oct 4 '17 at 20:52
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    No I didn't sign any NDA or Non Competition Agreement, and I'm in California US – Poplol Oct 4 '17 at 20:53
  • @Poplol in that case it seems you are in complete freedom to do as you want. If you should apply or not depends on several factors, like you finding that new place a better fit for example. – DarkCygnus Oct 4 '17 at 21:01
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Should I apply for company A or not? Does it mean you have to avoid any companies that is closely related to your current employer?

To add more information: no NDA or non competitive agreement signed, just a normal at will hire.

I would apply. In fact, in converse circumstances, I did apply, and landed the best job I ever had.

I worked for a software startup. As part of my role, I introduced some automation that was rather new to the industry at the time. The vendor I chose was also a startup. We were the customer.

Working closely with the vendor, I came to know a lot about the product, the people, and the company. In my mind, I always thought "that might be an interesting place to work".

When my company went public, it started to go downhill fast. People were laid off, departments were reorganized, things were bad.

I put in a call to the vendor and asked if they knew of any companies looking for someone in my role. We had a long interview talk and spoke openly about how this might look to my current employer. They decided to go ahead anyway.

Like you, I had no non-compete clause or NDA that would be problematic. The vendor just didn't want to risk alienating a client. Eventually, I learned that they concluded that my employer probably wouldn't be a client for much longer (they were correct in that).

In my most recent job, one person was let go and was later hired by the customer whose account he serviced. It happens.

Apply. Be sensitive to that fact that some customers don't want to "steal" employees from their vendors and they may hesitate. That said, it happens a lot.

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  • Thanks for sharing your story. I got a better idea of what I can expect with the two answers received. For me, it seems the position in company A had better to be a really good opportunity to offset the potential risk that may pose to my current job (caught in action by my boss, awkward relationship if the interview failed, etc). Yet this particular position seems not worth the risk (I searched company A and reviews on career advancement and salary expectations turned me off). So I may not apply this time. – Poplol Oct 6 '17 at 16:52
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I've seen this happen more than once.

Vendors become customers, and customer become vendors.

There are two obstacles that come to mind:

  1. A non-compete clause in your employment contract
    (This doesn't apply to you, but others might need to consider this.)
  2. People in your current company know people in your new company and vice-versa. Keeping secrets (past performance, reputation at the old company, the fact you're looking, etc.) may be more difficult.

As for your questions:

Should I apply for company A or not?

That's up to you - it sounds like there's no reason not to. We can't make the decision for you.

Does it mean you have to avoid any companies that is closely related to your current employer?

No. In fact, the fact that you know how the supplier works and who does what will make you more valuable to your new company. Be sure to leave on good terms - you'll be expected to use those relationships.

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    the OP edited his post to state that there is no "non-compete" clause in his situation, you may wish to edit your answer, or leave it as a generic answer to general questions. – Old_Lamplighter Oct 4 '17 at 21:28
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    Good advice! You're right that company A would expect me to use my relationships in current company -- I didn't think that way before. And it may be difficult to keep the job application/interview secrete because they have more close relationship with my direct boss, professionally, not personally though. – Poplol Oct 4 '17 at 21:43
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    Reasonably common scenario and a good answer for it. – Kilisi Oct 4 '17 at 22:27

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