So I recently changed my job, and have been given a req for a new hire reporting to me. I may be able to announce the position on Linked In. For ethical reasons, I will NOT be approaching anyone at my former company about this, but what if someone from that company approaches me after seeing it on Linked In? Would it be ethical to allow them to apply for the job?

  • Why wouldn't it be? Let's flip the question on its head, would it be ethical for you to stop someone from applying for a job they want? How would you stop them anyway?
    – Seth R
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 21:11
  • @Kilisi It is a direct report to him. Getting candidates is good for him. And it is is LinkedIn.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 22:59
  • Why wouldn’t you approach someone at your former company? As long as there is no non-compete or you owe something to your former employer, you are offering opportunity. Opportunity helps to keep salaries competitive in the marketplace. Just because the offer is there, does not mean a person must accept, especially if they feel loyal to their employer; but its less desirable not to have the option.
    – vol7ron
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 23:30

5 Answers 5


Would it be ethical to allow them to apply for the job?


It makes sense (ethically and professionally) not to solicit workers from your former company.

But if they come to you seeking a job, and they are qualified, then add them to the mix of applicants.

  • I would add that as you know them perhaps do not be engaged in interviews with them.
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 19:03

It would be unethical for you not to let them apply. You should not boycott employees from your old company.

Your old company may try and accuse you of poaching but if the employee reports they saw it on your Linked In and was not contacted by you then you should be in the clear.


Ethics when former colleague applies for position

There is nothing unethical about hiring former colleagues, or even headhunting so long as there are no constraints from your agreements with your former workplace.

The ethical thing to do if there is any doubt in your mind is just to stay out of it.

Unless you're the hiring manager or have been tasked to do that role, you have no reason to and it's unprofessional to preempt someone else's role. Companies hiring people are usually professionals in their own right. They may have policies on hiring practices, advertising positions and everything else. Just as any other role may have policies.

There is no ethical dilemma interviewing, I have blocked people from getting jobs because I personally knew them to be useless, so interviewing a former colleague does sometimes give you more insight. But I wouldn't block them just because I used to work with them. It's actually more of an ethical issue if you bring in candidates for an interview because that means you will probably favour them over other candidates that came in on their own or by other means.


I guess it depends on the culture, but I'd have no qualms about not only letting developers from my old company apply.

Hell, absent other restrictions (NDA/non-compete/non-solicitation in contract), I often reached out to talented colleagues that I've worked with previously to encourage them to apply for the same company I worked for, when I found the company paying, and treating the employees well.


Did you sign a non-solicit agreement with your previous company?

My assumption is that this is why you are asking this question. If you did, then check the terms of it. If you agreed not to hire away any of your previous co-workers for a specific period of time, then you're bound by that, depending on the parameters.

Otherwise, you might need to edit this question to be more clear about what you're asking. There is no ethics-based reason to not allow your previous co-workers to apply.

  • 1
    Given that the former colleague approached the OP first, I think they are okay to move forward even if the OP signed a non-poaching agreement, but you should be extra careful to "document" that your former colleague approached you.
    – jcmack
    Commented Oct 6, 2018 at 0:00
  • 1
    This is called a non-solicit agreement; non-competes are about you the employee working with competitors, not who you try to hire. Commented Oct 6, 2018 at 3:00
  • @ShimonRura - thank you! I knew I had the right idea, but I sincerely appreciate your correction. Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 21:23

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