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I am in a new situation and I don't know if I am supposed to do something about it or not.

I was hired by a new company and will be starting in January. As soon as I had the new contract I resigned from my current company and I am serving my 3 weeks notice. During my resignation my boss wanted to know which company I was leaving them for, and I told him.

A few days later a colleague asked me for information about the selection process at my new company. At first I didn't realize why he was asking me since I had told no one other than my boss where I was going, but he clarified that "someone" told him about my new job, and he too is sending an application to that company.

My question is: Am I supposed to tell the new company about this? Will they think that I started telling anyone about them and the new job? How will this be perceived?

If you ask me I didn't want anyone to know about the new job, until I said so, in order to maintain privacy about it.

  • Just to be clear, are you working as a contractor or employee? – Mister Positive Dec 14 '16 at 14:38
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    I am a employee in my current company and I will be an employee in my new job – Aluminum Dec 14 '16 at 14:39
  • Do you have any reservations about this person joining your new company? Are they a poor employee? – AndreiROM Dec 14 '16 at 15:26
  • @AndreiROM well it's not a great colleague, not for his personality which is fine, but for his technical skills, and sincerely speaking I don't think he will gonna make through the selection. The thing that bother me is the fact that maybe everyone from my company could send an application to the new one, and what the new one would think of this. – Aluminum Dec 14 '16 at 15:27
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    @Aluminum - I think most people would understand that you probably had no hand in it. I mean, if you did, you'd probably be listed as a reference, or you'd go put in a "good word" with your new manager, but you're obviously not going to do that. If you find out that this guy used you as a reference you can simply say that he lied, and that you don't approve of being listed on his application. If he doesn't, but your new boss asks you about him you can diplomatically state that you'd rather not be involved in hiring him. I think you'll be fine either way, but yes, what he did is kinda low. – AndreiROM Dec 14 '16 at 15:39
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Stay out of it and keep out of it.

Their application is their application and it has to be evaluated on its own merits. Nothing to do with you.

Don't say anything to your new employer, you have nothing to say that they don't already know anyway. Weigh in at some time in the future only if your colleague is much further long in the hiring process, you are being solicited for your opinion, and you know your colleague to be an out and out jerk. Ditto if the colleague as a pleasure to work with. In general, respect the confidentiality of your new company's hiring process.

You told your old boss who you were to work for. Nothing wrong with that in my book - I see it as a matter of (non-obligatory) professional courtesy to tell the old boss where you're going. Your colleague got wind of of it, most likely from your boss (*). I am inclined to say there's nothing wrong with that. And your colleague is applying to your new employer. Again, nothing wrong with that. You are not a party to your colleague's decision to apply nor are you likely to be a party to your new employer's decision to hire - and that's probably the way you want it.

Frankly, I don't understand what you are worried about. So far as I am concerned, your worry is much ado about nothing. If your colleague is qualified and your new employer wants them, that's 100% your new employer's decision. You have nothing to do with that decision, and your new employer has certainly every right to hire your colleague away from their present employer.

(*) Keep in mind that your suspicion that your boss talked is just a theory, and you have no proof that this is actually what happened although it is the most likely scenario - Your colleague could have learned from a sister-in-law who works at your new company for all we know. Having said that, how your colleague learned about the existence of your new employer is irrelevant to you, to your new employer or to anyone else. It's not as if your new employer is a secret society of some kind, is it?

  • @jpmc - Damn, you're right :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 14 '16 at 23:28
  • +1, Personal peeve: In the footnote, could you please change 'theory' to 'hypothesis' or 'possibility'. As a science lover, living in the US, I'm very sensitive to the proper use of that word. – eclipz905 Dec 15 '16 at 13:43
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    @eclipz905 - We are not doing science here on this site. And I am speaking as a US trained chemical engineer. There are several definitions including colloquial definitions of the word "theory" and "theory" as defined within the context of scientific inquiry is but one of them. Here is the definition of "theory" that I am working with in the context of this site: "a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn" merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theory – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 15 '16 at 14:06
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    @VietnhiPhuvan - You're not wrong. Unfortunately, colloquial usage of some words has resulted in them having multiple accepted definitions which are contradictory. It's literally the worst feature of language. – eclipz905 Dec 15 '16 at 15:22
  • @eclipz905 is it the worst feature... or the best bug? – bharal Dec 19 '16 at 18:45
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You have learned a painful lesson -- When you give your notice, unless your employment agreement dictates you reveal this information, never tell your current employer who your new employment is with. You never know what things they may do in order to force you to say. ( this is definitely not the norm, but why risk it?? ) Let them find out when you update your linkedin profile.

You do need to keep in mind that if you signed a non compete agreement that could be a sticking point, depending on the applicable laws.

As to your question: What would you say to your new employer without sounding paranoid? I would not not mention this to your new employer or worry about it any further. Maybe your co-worker is interested in leaving too? This may be why your were asked about the application process.

It is normal for you to talk about your next adventure during your notice period. ( Although not too much )

UPDATED: Since you did not initiate the contact between your current co-worker and your new company there is no risk of being caught by some "poaching" clause.

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    That's terrible advice, of course you should tell your current employer where you are going. They need to check if it's a competing company and if so, put you on gardening leave or enact parts of their contract. The problem wasn't that they told them the company they were going to, it was that some higher up the chain spoke out of turn – Draken Dec 14 '16 at 14:31
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    @Draken based on my 31 years of professional experience I respectfully disagree with you. I only provide answers based on my experience, not for points or popularity -- only here to help. – Mister Positive Dec 14 '16 at 14:32
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    @Draken thanks for posting that comment, I was starting to wonder if I was incredibly naive. It doesn't seem at all realistic (or necessary) to keep that kind of information from your employer. – Ant P Dec 14 '16 at 14:32
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    @Draken Again, read my answer. If your employment agreement says you have too, then its a moot point. If you work in a sensitive industry you signed one of those for sure. – Mister Positive Dec 14 '16 at 15:03
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    If this is common practice in your area, it sounds like all the companies there are terrible... :( – Erik Dec 14 '16 at 18:01
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First: check your contract. You may have signed a non-compete and confidentiality agreement with your ex employer. This often spell out what's allowed and what isn't after departure, They typically contain a paragraph around "poaching", i.e. participating in hiring of employees from your ex employer.

If there is nothing in writing, I would first contact your new employer and ask for guidance: are they interested in hiring more people from your ex employer. If they are, and there is no policy against it, you can talk to your current colleagues but it MUST be outside the office and outside of work time. You can't do this while anyone is on the clock. It's easiest and best to wait until you have left.

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    I don't think answering questions about a company when approached unprompted could be considered "participating in poaching." – Ant P Dec 14 '16 at 14:45
  • Exactly right @AntP – Mister Positive Dec 14 '16 at 14:45
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    @AntP: Yes it can. It really depends on how the clause in the contract is written. I got legal advice on this once. – Hilmar Dec 14 '16 at 15:58
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    Agree it is not poaching. But it might be perceived as poaching. – paparazzo Dec 14 '16 at 17:21
  • Mayor companies in the USA with excellent lawyers have been paying fines of hundreds of millions of dollars for trying to prevent poaching. Poaching is fine in many places. – gnasher729 Dec 14 '16 at 23:29
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Is this employee someone you would want to recommend? If so, tell your new employer and hopefully collect a referral bonus (my company offers up to $20,000 for a referral, though our average is more in the $3-5k range).

If not, don't tell your new employers and let the cards fall as they will.

Leading a mass exodus is frowned upon. Jumping ship, then recruiting former co-workers to the new place can burn bridges with your old management/company. However, if someone approaches you about joining, I wouldn't discourage them or play dumb.

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