So I asked a former coworker if his current company had any intention of hiring just because I am interesting in working in that particular industry, but not for that particular company?

Is this misleading and could this hurt me in any way?

Edit: Used for work at that company, so I am a little interested in how they are doing

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    "Do you have any grapes?" "Over in aisle 3" "Ok, thanks, I'll go buy some somewhere else". – Dukeling Oct 25 '18 at 19:37
  • Why would you do this? To get a general feeling of the state of the industry? Seems there are better ways to do that. – Philip Kendall Oct 25 '18 at 19:39
  • wondering how that guy is doing that's all. Just out of curiosity. I know it's a bit unusual and how the business is going. – GrandFleet Oct 25 '18 at 19:40
  • @GrandFleet so, you want to ask your former coworker this because it would give you some sense on how the industry is? – DarkCygnus Oct 25 '18 at 20:07
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    Why not just ask the co-ops you want to work for if they're hiring? – AffableAmbler Oct 25 '18 at 20:35

Given probably 99.99% of people would take an "are you hiring?" question as a very heavy implication that you'd be interested in working for that company and you explicitly make clear in your question that you aren't and the definition of misleading being

giving the wrong idea or impression

I think it's pretty safe to call that "misleading" yes.

Given that you used to work there it's not a stretch to imagine your former co-worker having a conversation with his boss along the lines of:

Remember GrandFleet who used to work here? Well he asked me the other day if we were hiring so I think he wants to come back. Would you be interested?

And if that happens you've wasted not your former co-worker's time but his boss' as well.

could this hurt me in any way?

Given you say you want to work in the industry (but not for that company) a decent reference or recommendation from this company might be useful yes? Well in that case this could definitely hurt you - misleading someone as to your intentions tends not to lead to people thinking favorably of you.

The irony is that being deceptive here literally doesn't benefit you in any way - you'd likely have gotten much better information regarding your actual query if you'd said something like:

Hey [former co-worker], I'm thinking of moving back into the industry, I'm not interested in coming back to ACME Corp at the moment but I was wondering if you'd heard anything about how the industry in general is going?

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  • hmm, well I have never been good at politics anyway, have no interest in being so roundabout tho. – GrandFleet Oct 26 '18 at 16:01

If you are curious how they are doing, it is better if you ask it more clearly (that is, explicit). That way you dismiss any chances of it being misleading whatsoever: "Hello Joe, nice to chat with you again. How are you? How are things back at work? I take it you've progressed on the projects you mentioned last time."

Just plain asking him if they are hiring would not be much nice. Also have in mind that this person may not be able to disclose certain job-related things, and asking him this (or about that product you mentioned) could put him in a compromising situation.

If you want to get information on some particular industry, if they are hiring or not, it would be better if you consulted other means instead. There are several tools to find jobs; google news on the industry, look for physical and digital ads announcing jobs available, target companies you like and apply, etc.

That would be better than drawing conclusions on the whole industry based on a single person's statement.

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It's insulting, if nothing else.

You may have the best of intentions, but this is how it will come across:

"Hi Joe, is your company hiring? I don't want to go there, because you guys stink like a week old fish, but I want to use your brain, I hope you don't mind."

The best way is to be very clear while talking to him that you are not looking to go back.

"Hi Joe, I'm thinking about getting back into the X industry, and I wonder if you could give me a few minutes some time and I'd like your input about the industry in general. Can we get together some time?"

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  • i never put it that way, I just asked if they were hiring, that's all. – GrandFleet Oct 25 '18 at 20:18
  • @GrandFleet That's how it would be interpreted, even if it's not how you'd put it. – Old_Lamplighter Oct 25 '18 at 20:19
  • I think the guy interpreted it as wanting to work there again. Did I mention I used to work there? – GrandFleet Oct 25 '18 at 20:20
  • @GrandFleet That works fine until he says, "Yes, we are hiring." What will you do next? Don't forget that your actions will speak as loudly as your words. Granted, if this happened in the course of a larger conversation, it might not come across as offensive. – employee-X Oct 25 '18 at 22:19
  • Honestly, I would say let me know if you have a posting and then not apply. – GrandFleet Oct 25 '18 at 22:50

I asked a former coworker if his current company had any intention of hiring

Jobs tend to be publicly posted in the US. You don't need to ask your former co-worker to get information about job openings at the company. Furthermore, job openings aren't a great indicator of growth. The startup I worked at had a lot of turnover and we were always hiring.

I recommend asking your former coworker to catch up with you, because you're interested in joining the same industry. You could then ask your coworker how his company is doing? What he thinks about the outlook of the industry? Etc. Talk to multiple people at different companies and to get a broad view. I usually recommend face-to-face conversation or at least a phone call.

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