Recently I had an interview but I was not selected at that firm. After a few days, the employee from that firm who referred me asked me if there are any developers with a certain amount of experience at my current firm looking for a new job whom I can refer to him. He also mentioned the salary for the role.

Given that I currently work here and my company, like others, is in need of qualified and experienced developers should I be helping the other company poach employees from my current company?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 17:59
  • I'm confused, you're being asked by the firm you interviewed with or by a headhunter? What would you gain from helping? What would you lose (perhaps your job?) Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 5:55

6 Answers 6


No this is not wise.

The best case is that you lose your most competent co-workers, which is going to make your life harder. The worst case is that your employer finds out, fires you, and trashes your reputation.

You have nothing to gain, and potentially a lot to lose. Don't do this.

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    This answer is largely correct; you probably don't have much to gain by helping coworkers leave, unless departures might enhance your position as a chance to (A) point out the problems that made people willing to go or (B) assume a more senior role after vacancies are created. Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 12:20
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    Plus, good luck getting references from either of those companies when you have to apply for a new job. "He helped another company headhunt our employees while he was supposed to be working for us, so we fired him" is going to look only slightly worse than "He didn't have the skills for the job we had to offer, but we could convince him to point us in the direction of his colleagues. Loyalty: Nil. Gullibility: High. 10/10 excellent patsy." Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 10:02
  • @Seldom'Where'sMonica'Needy: (B) does not sound great. You want to recommend someone because he genuinely fits what the other company is needing, not because he is a rival and a block on your career path.
    – Taladris
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 14:25

It would be double-dumb

Firstly, you'll be actively working against the interest of your current company. You can only get trouble if they learn that.

Second, you're helping for free another company, who has refused you. If you weren't good enough for them to work for money, why would you work for them for free?

Honestly, that request is a pure insolence. It's like your date has told you you aren't good looking enough, but maybe you have some handsome friends and you can share their numbers.

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    That's also the comparison I immediately had im my head when reading this question :) honestly, it's rather unprofessional for the company to even ask, and silly of the OP to actually consider it. "Sorry we can't hire, do you have any better colleagues you could refer?" is such a weird request, I wouldn't even answer the email.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 12:54
  • I don't agree with the date metafor - at all. If you and your date turn out to be not compatible, it might very well be they might be a great match with one of your friends, and you personally lose nothing from them and your friend finding happiness.
    – Konerak
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 13:59
  • In a company setting, that is different, because you are hurting the company you are working for, and hurting yourself by taking away good coworkers. But even then, a good manager still wants the best for his people, even if that means them leaving the current company... so that might also be true for a coworker. If this is the once in a lifetime chance for a coworker who might not be a good fit in your current company (maybe someone who will leave anyway)... sure, why not?
    – Konerak
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 14:01

I partially disagree with @fraxinus and Gh0stFish's answers. While you don't want to refer people who aren't looking for a new job, or are in the mildly disgruntled "I should try and find something better" state; if you know someone definitely is - not might - going to be leaving it's different.

I've had coworkers who were moving for personal reasons and doing jobs at my employer at the time which couldn't be done remotely. They were going to be gone no matter what so helping them wouldn't hurt our current employer. Both were also very open about the whole situation; and had their managers actively helping them look for new jobs. Another similar case would be if it was publicly known that someone was part of a group that was going to be let go when their current project/customer contract/etc was finished.

In any event, you should give the recruiters information to your coworker not the other way around.

  • This. When an employee is stuck where he is, (s)he's gonna live anyways. Better if it's in good conditions. We lost an office manager recently, she had ore than enough of her current job. My own manager helped her refining her linkedin profile. So that she could grow in her career. Replacing her is tough, but she would have ended up leaving anyways.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 17:25

Helping people you know find the next step in their careers can be an important long-term investment in your own career.

And you don't generally have a duty to your current employer that would prevent you from recommending a current colleague for an outside opportunity.

So "shoud you"? If you're invested in the success of your current employer, then probably not. But if you want to, it's not an unreasonable or unusual thing to do.

  • This may apply also/especially in some cases where either employee is already unambiguously in the process of parting ways with the company where they are/were colleagues. Especially if the referred employee was just fired for redundancy but not incompetency or if their real strengths are a complete mismatch for their/your current employer. However, be sure to re-read your contract and severance agreement before concluding that "there was no duty" in your specific case, and don't expect that the referral will remain secret. Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 21:39
  • This is especially true when most career opportunities aren’t found within the current company. People can’t move into a senior position if it’s already filled. It’s not a recommendation to be made lightly though. Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 3:08

The only (partially) legitimate reason is if you want a particular employee pretty much out of your company.

We all know that people of zero or negative usefulness, but boasting a rich CVs do exist. It may happen that some of them share a payroll (and duties) with you. It may even be that the management wants them gone but can't afford or doesn't care enough to fire them.

Of course, this implies you know enough office politics in the first place. I never do, but your mileage may vary.

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    if you want a particular employee pretty much out of your company| This is a terrible idea and could result in getting a terrible reputation from both the OP's current employer and the firm asking for people to be referred to them as it is implicit that the person being suggested to them is actually a bad co-worker. Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 19:45
  • @StephenG indeed it can fail miserably, this is why I mentioned the office politics.
    – fraxinus
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 19:50
  • @StephenG "Really? Oh dear. Well he was fine when he worked for us. And the place before that." Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 19:32
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    Another possible valid reason is a good dev working on a bad idea / bad project. If their boss demands that they make Microsoft Bob on a budget of 1 dollar, even if you handed it to John Carmack it wouldn't be good. Their days are numbered no matter what they do if companies judge projects instead of individual engineers. The market just isn't there.
    – jrh
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 13:34

I fully agree with the top answer that says this is stupid, dangerous and counter productive. You would, for no reason, be doing them a huge favor, hurting the company you actually work for.

Two wrinkles:

  1. "I interviewed elsewhere, and failed" is something I would keep very very silent. Both for the perceived "oh he is going to jump ship" and also the "he is not worth his salt". As far as your workplace goes, this interview did not happen. This makes the unwise recruitment even less wise.

  2. If you have coworkers that are close enough friends that you talk about the interview to anyway (careful about that), possibly over beers, then it is another matter. I might mention that they were still looking, not hype/endorse/sell the place I failed at in any way, but just state the facts.

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