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I am currently employed at company X. For a big project, I asked my manager if we could get some external consulting to provide some help and best-practices. Management agreed, and now we have an external consultant (working at company Y) a few days per week working with me on the project for the coming month.

A few days after our kick-off meeting, I was approached by a colleague of the consultant via e-mail, showing interest in my profile, and inviting me for a talk about a job opportunity. I politely declined.

Again a few days later, the external consultant itself talked to me about job opportunities at their company and showed continued interest in me and my profile as well.

Again, I declined politely, stating that I was not looking for other opportunities at this time. I didn't tell them this, but I feel this is pretty unprofessional behavior, and they should not start recruiting people away from the client to whom they are providing consultancy services. At the very least, they should wait until the current project is over.

Should I inform my manager about this?

On the one hand, I feel I should let my manager know what this firm is doing, and warn them that this might happen again in the future. On the other hand, I'm afraid this will just backfire.

If my manager reacts harshly, they may choose not to work with company Y anymore, requiring us to find another party for this and any future projects. Also, if the people at company Y found out I "told on them", they may feel reluctant to work with me again on future opportunities.

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    Recruiting people away from other companies is a very common practice... it's how many companies recruit talented workers. – Bebs Jun 21 at 9:23
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    At the end of the day does it really matter? Who really cares? You declined their invitation, there isn't anything else that needs to be done. They'll continue doing what they do, regardless of what you think and regardless of whether or not you tell your manager. This is not an issue I would give 5 seconds of thought. – joeqwerty Jun 21 at 12:22
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    "I didn't tell them this, but I feel this is pretty unprofessional behavior" No it's not and I think you have an unhealthy loyalty to your current company – user86742 Jun 21 at 17:20
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    Keep in mind, consulting companies would have a much harder time poaching someone if they had to wait until the contract was over to do anything. Because, well, once the contract is over, why would they still be hanging out at the client business for very long? – Kevin Jun 21 at 20:05
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    As a consultant, if my company were to try poaching people from our customers, that would be a great way to lose customers. We don't do that. – Jenny D Jul 1 at 9:31
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Approaching to hire people away from companies competing or companies working in the same domain is a pretty common practice in the industry. There are even unofficial terms for this practice called employee poaching or talent poaching. This is a sure shot way for companies to hire proven talent.

It's totally up to your career goals and ensuing opportunities as to whether you should consider this opportunity or not.

However, before you start thinking about pursuing this opportunity, it's highly advisable to carefully read through the original offer letter from your current employer, word-by-word. Look for any non-compete clauses and applicable post-employment and termination terms, applicable after you leave your employment with them.

The above becomes more significant if you are involved in some crucial intellectual property that may be of benefit to the consultant, or are named on a patent that your current company may have filed for.

It will certainly help to seek legal advice before you make any move.

Basically, it is important to be aware of the applicable terms (as accepted by you) if you ever choose to leave your employer. It is very important to keep your tracks clean.

Should I inform my manager about this?

Irrespective of whether you wish to take up this opportunity, do not talk to your manager about it. It's in your best interest to keep mum.

I highly doubt that it would do any good telling this to your manager. In fact, it could backfire if the management realizes that you are being approached by competitors and other players in the same domain, and they become cautious with you. This may end up restricting career growth opportunities.

I feel this is pretty unprofessional behavior, and they should not start recruiting people away from the client to whom they are providing consultancy services. At the very least, they should wait until the current project is over.

It could be very well argued if it is professional or not of the consultancy to recruit away while the project is in progress, and whether they should wait until the current project is over. But, again, they are most likely not doing anything wrong. This is more of an ethical issue than legal. Keep in mind that organizations almost always play it safe when legalities are involved.

It doesn't hurt to discuss the terms of employment with the consulting company. You will get to know the kind of work opportunity, pay raise and job perks they are willing to offer. Once you have an offer in hand, you can still make a decision on whether to jump ship or continue with your current employer. Even if you choose to reject the offer, it will do no good to the consultancy to tell about this to your current employer. In fact they may bring more damage upon themselves than you.

Legally speaking, you aren't doing anything wrong as long as you adhere to the terms of employment with your current employer. There's absolutely no harm at all in exploring the available opportunities in the market.

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    Very complete answer, thank you. It just felt very "off" to me, especially since the project was still ongoing. – Matthias Jun 21 at 11:02
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    Also it may result in bad feeling toward the contractor and their company. If they lose the contract as a result of trying to poach you, you've very significantly burned a bridge you may want to cross in future – Richard Jun 21 at 19:34
  • "There's absolutely no harm at all in exploring the available opportunities in the market.", well, that depends on the person. Some people are very good at persuading, and some people are more vulnerable to persuasion. So it comes to knowing yourself, and knowing how easily you can be talked into things which, when considered rationally, are not good moves. A lot of seemingly great opportunities really aren't, yet people fall for them all the time. – hyde Jun 21 at 21:41
  • @Matthias I understand your discomfort. If I were the consultancy, I would not engage in this behavior. But I agree that this is the kind of situation--nothing illegal going on, just something maybe a bit unsavory--where your best option is to keep quiet. If this project ends and the same group is being considered for another project, and you're concerned about poaching, it might make sense then to say "well, I'm a litte worried about using them again because they did [describe behavior] before--can we put something in the contract specifically forbidding recruitment of current employees?". – msouth Jun 21 at 21:45
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    Sometime the outside consultant/contractor in this case has a clause in its contract with your current employer saying it can't poach. If it does, and you accept the offer - you may be in trouble if your current company objects and complains (with threats) to the outside company: You've left your job but suddenly your offer evaporates ... – davidbak Jun 21 at 21:45
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Yes, you should advise your manager. The consulting agreement may include a provision that prevents the consultant from attempting to recruit members of your organization while working together. The behavior of the consultant may be a violation of the agreement, which your manager should be aware of.

However, whether or not the consultant did something wrong doesn’t affect whether or not you can pursue the job if you are interested.

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