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I've recently looked at a job circular of a certain company which was previously government owned (now privatized). In that circular they mentioned:

Applicants who are currently employed should take written permission from their current employer for applying here. During the viva, the applicant must attach a written and attested copy of this permission along with other required documents.

This sounds extremely weird to me. Is it really possible to do such a thing? Because as far as I know, no one usually informs their employers officially and explicitly about applying elsewhere. Once someone tries to get a written permission of this kind, it becomes officially recorded that this employee is trying to switch elsewhere.

What should an applicant do in the above mentioned circumstance? Should he/she:

  1. Try to get the permission anyways? If so, what is the best way to approach?
  2. Lie to the interviewers about their job status (i.e. quit or unemployed)?
  3. Quit prior to appearing for the interview?
  4. Stop thinking about applying in such a company?

P.S. The company is a bank (previously state-owned and still running state/govt. transactions) in a South East Asian country.

  • Why are these the only options? If I read the sentence carefully, it says applications should take written permission from their current employer for applying here. It says you should do so, not that you must. One option would be to ignore their suggestion, but don't lie. If the company asks you if you got permission from your current employer, simply say that it's not possible for you to ask for permission. – Brandin May 19 '15 at 9:12
  • I can see any of my former employers writing to the bank "He is one of my best people but yes, you can have him. And no, I am not bitter that you can have him" :) The bank's management has a few things to learn about the hiring process. – Vietnhi Phuvan May 19 '15 at 11:39
  • @VietnhiPhuvan You mean, you can't see any of your former employers writing to the bank "He is one of my best people ... ... ... .. you can have him". Right? Or did I interpret it wrong? – Choudhury Saadmaan Mahmid May 20 '15 at 5:03
  • @Capt.JackSparrow You interpreted it right :) – Vietnhi Phuvan May 20 '15 at 10:26
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The company is looking to hire people that fit one of the following profiles:

  • currently unemployed
  • soon to be unemployed
  • their company wished they no longer worked there
  • their company encourages them to look outside the company

If I saw this type of announcement I would move on and look for ome company that wouldn't put my current job at risk.

Why would they want on people who fit those categories?

  • They can be quick to decide; Unemployed people don't ask for extensive periods to analyze the offer and to ask their current company to make a counter offer
  • They won't have a long notice period. In some countries that can be weeks or months

As to your suggested options:

  1. Try to get the permission anyways? If so, what is the best way to approach?

Only do this if you know your job is safe.

  1. Lie to the interviewers about their job status (i.e. quit or unemployed)?

You may be able to lie for a few day days; but they will want to see the form. Unless you plan on faking it and you know they won't call your boss this will not work

  1. Quit prior to appearing for the interview?

We get questions on this site asking when you should tell your boss. Many people worry about being fired just for looking for a job. It doesn't seem like a good idea to quit the day before an interview. Their hiring process could take weeks, and you would have no income. Plus they might not select you for the job.

  1. Stop thinking about applying in such a company?

Unless you know your boss won't get mad about you looking, this seems to be the best option.

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There is no way we can tell you what is best for you. You should not lie. As for the other options, it depends on what job you risk versus what job you may gain as a reward. But using such conditions to apply, the job and company cannot be that great. I mean do you really want to work for a company where all your coworkers came from companies that did not need them? That doesn't sound like a bunch of guys I'd want to work with.

So what can you do?

  • You can inform them that they missed out on a good candidate. Write them a polite email. Chances are they won't change, but an email costs you next to nothing.

  • You can vote for a party that finally ends those crude labor laws you guys have (guessing your location here, but in western countries non-compete agreements between companies are probably illegal, just look at the anti-poaching lawsuits).

  • You can be happy with the job you have. It could be worse. Just look at that company.

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  • Vote for a party that finally ends those crude labor laws???? Sorry for not disclosing, but you have no idea what these damned parties do to us. No one cares a bit about labor laws here, actually no one even cares about welfare or betterment of the citizens in any ways, not a single person, let alone a political party. I got good reasons not to disclose my country. We already have a pretty bad impression worldwide regarding multiple issues, I just don't want to add a new one. – Choudhury Saadmaan Mahmid May 19 '15 at 7:30
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In terms of "is it possible", it's highly unusual to ask you to notify your current company before they offer you a job, for the obvious reason that it puts all the risk on the potential candidate, with nothing offered in return.

However, in the absence of specific labour laws and with a hiring culture that is not concerned with missing out on good candidates, a company can pretty much ask that you turn up in a frilly dress and refer to yourself as "Mrs Buttercup" for the duration of the interview. It's up to you if you want to jump through those hoops.

Realistically, you have three ethical options:

  • Apply but explain politely that your company's policy does not support giving explicit permission to apply to other jobs (which is completely true, as there's no policy in place to support this)
  • Get the permission
  • Don't apply

Which one you choose depends on how comfortable you are with your current company, how much this new job would mean to you, and whether you are generally looking for a job.

If this job is particularly appealing, and you're sure your current employer can't match it, then there's nothing wrong with saying "I'm happy working here, but this is a tremendous opportunity, and I think it would be a really good fit for me". How well you think this would be received is entirely down to what the culture of the company you work for is; also how you fit into that company (for example, how high up you are, what other options you have, and how good your relationship with the decision-makers is)

If you're just generally looking, then my advice would be to pass on this job offer until you have a different one lined up and are in that "not currently employed but starting a new job" phase, at which point you can apply during the period that you don't have an employer.

One sensible question to ask is why they're asking for this permission, either directly, or by making contact with one of the employees of the bank who'd be expected to know.

It's possible they've been burnt by employers refusing to release employees from their contracts, and this is their attempt to save themselves some time and confusion. In which case, if you can state authoritatively that your company can't lock you into your current contract, then that should calm their concerns. You can even phrase it as "my company is willing to release me from my contract 1 month after we agree my start date with your company", which again is entirely true, because that's what the notice period in a contract means.

Of course, sometimes the rule is just the rule that HR always follows, and in that case, either you get the permission from your company, or don't apply. Other opportunities are always available.

One last thing, from some of the comments, I would advise you to seek out successful mentors in your own field and country. My experience of the UK/US hiring culture, with its relatively strong labour laws and acceptance that people look for the job that's right for them, may simply not be applicable to your situation; for all I know, it's culturally seen as an insult for you to be looking for work.

A senior employee of your current company would be more likely to know or to be experienced in what the reaction from management would be if you started looking into this, and asking them politely about that over lunch would be entirely appropriate, especially if you show them the job description.

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