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During my job hunting, I came across a company that I quite like; I interviewed with the company and got a job offer. However, the company is located in the same physical area as my current company and many of my friends saying that was not suitable/professional to find a new job in the same area as the current company. For the avoidance of doubt, the companies are not direct competitors.

Is it really that unsuitable/unprofessional?

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    If the job is good and the salary is good, I don't see the reason it's unsuitable/unprofessional at all. I think your friends are over-reacting. – scaaahu Oct 20 '15 at 8:29
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    Can you clarify "area". Do you mean building, block, neighbourhood, city? – Dancrumb Oct 20 '15 at 14:03
  • @Dancrumb, I'm not sure of what it called. The area consists of offices, residential, and also shop lots. – user43074 Oct 21 '15 at 1:22
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    Did you ask your friends how they came to this conclusion? – user8365 Oct 21 '15 at 19:54
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I am not sure what your friends are alluding to, but there is no problem whatsoever regarding the location of one job to another.

Are the companies direct competitors? Even if this is the case, this happens far more often than you probably think

And if you think about it logically, it will always happen. If you live in Town X and you are a realtor, there will be a finite number of realtors in that town. Some may even be a door or two away from each other. So unless you wish to change career and/or town every time you wish to change job, this will be unavoidable

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    In smaller towns in England, all the estate agents are often clumped together. Five competing estate agents within 100 metres. Convenient for customers who can park their car once and visit all estate agents by walking. If an employee moves they will be within 100 metres from their old job. – gnasher729 Oct 20 '15 at 9:22
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    There have been people I know who have changed jobs and simply moved floor in the same building! Your friends' concerns are completely unfounded. – Jane S Oct 20 '15 at 10:39
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    @JaneS Absolutely - and one glance at the business centres of most Cities would show that it's not even a particularly unlikely scenario. Canary Wharf in London, for example - many similar businesses in close proximity and some will share buildings and even floors. – Dan Oct 20 '15 at 12:41
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    @JaneS I can top that by a little bit. At one of my employer's offices, someone we fired ended up back in the building a few days later working for a subcontractor of the project he was working on for us that we were subletting space to. – Dan Neely Oct 20 '15 at 15:54
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    @Dan Neely I have a former boss who now works on a higher floor in the adjacent building for a different company where his office overlooks ours – RobV Oct 22 '15 at 11:01
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Is it really that unsuitable/unprofessional?

Your friends might mean to say that it would be a bit uncomfortable to move into a company which is very near to your former company, as you'd be bumping into your former colleagues and bosses a bit too often.

But, that would linger only for a brief amount of time(If you can shrug it off a bit quicker, then better).

So, it is in no way unprofessional/unsuitable, as that feeling(even for a brief period) would never affect your productivity.

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    It'd be silly to assume it's unprofessional to work near your old place. It might be a bit awkward, especially if you left your old company on bad terms. More importantly, this means that your old bosses and new bosses will be in a position to casually talk to each other in passing. Hope you didn't lie or exaggerate during your interview. – DevNull Oct 20 '15 at 13:14
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    How people perceive it depends on your old relationships. It's not unprofessional. If I were in the same situation I would actually consider it a good thing. A lot of times you build friendships with coworkers that fizzle out because of scheduling and a new job. Though that may be the case regardless, you do have the option of attempting to keep in contact with people that you most likely would not have in any other situation. – zfrisch Oct 20 '15 at 22:03
  • @Dogbert, thanks for the heads up! I will keep that in mind. – user43074 Oct 21 '15 at 1:26
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    Old co-workers and bosses are not jilted lovers; unless you are they are deeply childish there should be no awkwardness in meeting former colleagues and bosses. – Jack Aidley Oct 21 '15 at 12:55
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    @Jack beat me to it; why on earth would this be "uncomfortable"?! Boggles the mind, the things I read here sometimes. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 21 '15 at 21:25
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I think that actually it is your friends who are being unprofessional. Professionalism means not allowing your personal feelings to interfere with doing your job.

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    Why do you believe there are personal feelings involved here? – Philip Kendall Oct 20 '15 at 12:41
  • Professionalism is more to do with following a code of conduct (which may or may not be written down somewhere). – Brandin Oct 20 '15 at 15:45
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    Ironically, I just have a feeling that this is what they mean :) – Ernest Friedman-Hill Oct 20 '15 at 18:45
  • @ErnestFriedman-Hill, the situation is, I "personally" feels that that is OK, but I might be too insensitive/unaware of the "unwritten rules". Their intention might just to be reminding me of those, which I appreciate. – user43074 Oct 21 '15 at 1:30
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I wonder why your friends think switching to a company in close proximity is unprofessional? If you could ask them and edit your question with the reason that would be informative.

Basically, there is no good reason. There is no rule that career moves must be further than 20 feet ;-) Sometimes, it might be perceived as even more awkward when someone moves 1 floor feet to a different cubicle space with another team of same company!

Bottom line: don't worry about it. When you see former colleagues, smile and say Hi, and move on with your new job! Your friends are probably just jealous ;)

That said, the real issue is not whether it is unprofessional to move jobs that are in close geographic proximity (it is not), but how to do it without saying things during the transition period that might make one appear unprofessional in the eyes of others.

There are a few things that may be worth keeping (pitfalls to avoid) in mind to avoid the situation becoming a little awkward:

  • When you are preparing to switch jobs, team members and other colleagues will ask you things like "Why are you going there?" and "Are you excited?" Also, for a few weeks or months after you make the switch, when you run into former colleagues on the street, they will ask questions like "So, how do you like your new job?"

These seemingly harmless questions are actually a test of your professionalism and integrity. Even if you are VERY excited and CAN'T WAIT to leave, I would advise against saying so.

Behaving as if moving to another job is the best thing that ever happened to you will inevitably make those that are staying behind feel uncomfortable and potentially demotivating. Without really knowing why, they might start to envy you. And envy is not a positive or healthy emotion to be inspiring in others.

Instead, I would recommend providing a calm, neutral response: "Yes, thank you for asking, I think it's a good opportunity for me and I look forward to learning new things and building some new skills." Don't go on and on about how great of an opportunity it is (even if it really is). Answer briefly and to the point. "Thank you, things are going well, I am settling in and the team is pretty good." That's it.

  • Nobody really wants to hear how absolutely fantastic your new job is (compared to the old one), or how you "really really miss everyone" at your old job and "really enjoyed working with everyone" (if you really did, you would not have left). Such comments are always recognized as platitudes and are cheap and might only spark curiosity and more questions.

Besides, how will you feel if, after telling everyone for months how much your old job sucked and how awesome your new job is, something happens and your job becomes intolerable, or you find yourself laid off without warning? These things seem unlikely but, in fact, happen all the time. The less excited you appear about a new opportunity, the less explaining you'll have to do if it ends up not working out for you.

A wiser approach is to dispel any excitement and dismiss any additional questions about "how is it going" as quickly as possible so that everyone can move on with their jobs and lives. Staff changes are always perceived as rocking the boat a little, both in the old and new workplaces. Your job as the culprit responsible for the initial rocking is to do whatever you can to stabilize the boat and help things return back to normal.

Providing a calm, measured response to questions about your transition, whether these questions come from your immediate old colleagues, new colleagues, or even family, is a tactful and professional thing to do. Do it, and your transition will truly be smooth and cause minimum issues and emotions all around. Good luck!

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    "if you really [enjoyed working with everyone], you would not have left" Not always true, by any means. – DSKekaha Oct 21 '15 at 20:40
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    To put a slightly finer point on it: some people have said, "Employees don't resign from companies; they resign from bosses." Whether or not that is true, there are many reasons people leave jobs and finding co-workers to be intolerable is one of many. It is genuinely possible to end a job and miss co-workers. – Christos Hayward Oct 22 '15 at 13:03
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    @JonathanHayward Well said and duly noted, thank you for the note. – A.S Oct 22 '15 at 13:09
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No. It is not unprofessional at all.

I made a career move 20 ft. down the hall for another company on our floor. It was a bit awkward for the first 2 weeks. People on my previous team felt offended that I didn't tell them I would be returning to the office to work for their competitor. And some people tried to give me the silent treatment. But as time went on and I kept returning these cold signals with warm smiles, the awkwardness has faded. No friendships have been ruined. Actually, I feel as if they respect me more now!

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'Professional' is not a clear cut concept like 'legal'. 'Professional' is whatever your manager says it is. Obviously the manager in the new company thinks it is professional and that is why you have been offered a job there. Once you move to the new company 'professional' is whatever your new manager says it is and what your old manager or coworkers think is irrelevant.

Besides, is there a well defined minimum radius around a company within which an employee should not look for a new job? No.

If you leave your old company will they follow some minimum radius rule when they hire someone to fill your position? No, they will even hire your next door neighbor if they feel s/he is a good candidate. So why should this meaningless notion of 'professional' apply to the employee alone?

'Professional' is merely a fake notion, a scam, created by corporate managers and executives to manipulate their employees into behaving exactly how the managers want, however meaningless or even detrimental to the employees it is. It is very similar to ideas of what is acceptable behavior that leaders of religious cults impose on cult members. Do not fall for it; do not get scammed.

If you like the job offer definitely move to the new company. Sometimes jealous coworkers will try to put you down by raising such meaningless issues. Ignore them. Don't lose out on a good opportunity because of the petty mindedness of a few people.

  • 'Professional' is whatever your manager says it is.. No, If my manager tells me to fake test results, is it professional? – scaaahu Oct 23 '15 at 3:42
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The only possible downside to taking a job near your old place of employment is that you will see your former colleagues, but that is normal anyway in many professions.

For example, some professional societies have local meetings. Professionals with similar skills and interests may volunteer for the same charities. If you engage in any local, face-to-face networking you are likely to meet former colleagues.

Even if you moved to a different city, you could see former colleagues at conferences and trade shows.

The only practical solution is to work and quit in such a way that meeting former colleagues causes no embarrassment. If you do that, it does not matter if the new job is down the hallway on the same floor of the same building as the old one.

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