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I am a software developer who recently left for a new employer. In my last few weeks I met with a lot of people and did knowledge transfers to help with projects I had worked on that may need work in the future. You can only go over so many things and ultimately some things will be overlooked.

Long story short, I was contacted by someone who still works there asking for guidance on an application that I had been involved in. I know I've been in a similar position before where the subject matter expert had left (albeit with no knowledge transfers) and I got a project dumped in my lap. I thought then 'boy, it would be nice if I could just contact them to get a start', but ultimately didn't do that and struggled through it because I thought it would be unprofessional. Is it unprofessional to contact someone who left the company for help?

From the other side of the spectrum, is there anything wrong with answering their questions?

13

It depends on how much help you are asking for. "Do you remember the password for the old version control repository?" is a reasonable request. "Can you come in for the next three weekends for free and help me debug this program?" is not.

In general I wouldn't regard simply asking as unprofessional, but you have to be prepared for an answer of "No", because turning you down is not unprofessional either.

7

Is it unprofessional to contact someone who left the company for help?

Not at all. I help former coworkers in my professional network all the time.

Now, don't be greedy with their time. And be sensitive if they don't wish to help for some reason.

From the other side of the spectrum, is there anything wrong with answering their questions?

Unless your current employer would object for some reason, there is absolutely nothing wrong with answering questions.

3

If there is no conflict of interests from either employer, there is nothing unprofessional about it.

When I do consulting work, I include my contact information in the comments in the code in case someone does have questions. }}

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