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I work for a large consulting firm on a small (seven person) team of economists, engineers and project managers, constructing analysis and reporting infrastructure for companies with complex sources of customer data.

We're all aggravated by our current relatively low pay, and are collectively considering jumping ship in search of greener pastures. However, as a team, we work very well together, and would prefer to continue working with each other.

We've thought about applying en mass to the same set of companies, then making our decisions from there, but given the benefits of having a team that has already gelled and worked together for an extended period of time, we think it would be mutually beneficial to keep us together.

Right now, we're just reaching out to our contacts to see if any of them have the need for an entire team, but we'd like to know if anyone else has moved companies with a whole group of employees outside of an acquisition? Was it worthwhile talking to recruiters as a group and working things out collectively, or would we be better off just moving to a new company as individuals, then trying to work together from within wherever we end up?

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    I've tried this. Approached a few recruiters but they couldn't find a single place for five of us. My angle was to the startup community. Find a company that received a sizable injection and pitch your plug and play team as a solution to their resourcing problem. – acpilot Jan 1 '17 at 5:14
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    Wow, it sounds like you have the perfect consulting team ready to go! As long as all of you can afford it and can agree on conflict resolution... are you guys open to that? – corsiKa Jan 1 '17 at 6:34
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    Starting your own business sounds like the best option? – Juha Untinen Jan 1 '17 at 8:59
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    There are a couple of well-known examples of this. Dave Cutler and his VMS team coming to Microsoft from DEC to develop the successor to OS/2 which eventually became Windows NT. The Self VM team leaving Sun after Sun cut their funding in order to fund Java, forming their own company, only to be bought back by Sun to develop the HotSpot JVM based on that very same technology Sun refused to fund only a couple of years earlier. Steve Jobs leaving Apple to form his own company, only to be bought back to lead his old company again. However, note that in 2 of those 3 cases, they started their own … – Jörg W Mittag Jan 1 '17 at 14:12
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    Some employment contracts have clauses that does not allow you to entice your colleagues to leave the company until a certain number of months after you left the company. You should probably get a lawyer to review your current employment contract such that you will know if you can get into trouble by leaving in such a coordinated fashion. – kasperd Jan 1 '17 at 14:35
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Unless you all want to leave to start your own company, the thought of collective activity like this seems silly.

Few companies are going to hire an entire gang that decided to jump ship at the same time. And fewer still would promise to keep that gang together in the new company. And from a hiring company point of view, I'd expect they would be wary that you and your crew would eventually jump ship from their company too.

If you really want to work together, the typical approach is for some individual to get hired at a new company, then recommend the others (or hire the others if the first individual is a hiring manager).

I've been part of acquisitions, where large groups stayed intact. And as a hiring manager I've often brought good workers to a company I joined.

But I would never think of tying my career move into a group of seven. I need to look out for myself first, and find a new job/company that fits my needs. If I can then find a way to have great former coworkers join me I do it. But the correct order is me first, then others.

  • Totally agree that "the thought of collective activity like this seems silly". This kind of thing can only work where the team in question has already been given notice. – GreenAsJade Jan 1 '17 at 9:04
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    I know many instances of this happening. The only difference was that it was the new employer who felt urgent need to fill a huge gap and decided to poach a complete team. – Agent_L Jan 2 '17 at 9:20
  • I've had this happened to me with my side job when at the university. One application than evolved into eight of us being hired one after another and we spent quite a few good and productive years together. The key thing was really that each of us got to get interviewed individually, not the whole bunch together. – Pavel Jan 2 '17 at 15:12
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    they would be wary that you and your crew would eventually jump ship am I the only one who thinks that if you don't know that your employees are dissatisfied that you're a bad manager? Maybe I'm misreading your attitude but I would not think that automatically as a manager unless it was a re-occuring theme with the people in question. – Jared Smith Jan 3 '17 at 11:56
  • But isn't there usually a very good reason if lots of employees quit at the same time? A very good reason which you could easily explain to potential new employers, who would then know whether this reason could apply to their company too or not? – Nobody Jan 3 '17 at 14:55
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I am not passing judgment on your team approach - there is always a probability that things will work out if you find someone who is really looking for an entire team as a unit and they really like you - but barring this scenario, whose probability of it happening does not favor your team, here are some of the issues I can think of that potential employers might have with your team approach:

  1. There is no guarantee that the team as a whole is working in a way that's compatible with the new employer's culture. One answer has suggested that a startup could hire your team but the compensation packages of seven people are a significant investment for that startup and most startups don't get a second chance if a key decision doesn't work out. You are asking the startup to do a "bet the company" decision.

  2. Right now, you all get along well because you have one unifying issue: your current employer sucks. What happens when you get to the new employer - will issues that were latent between various members of the team bubble up and surface?

  3. There are seven of you. What are the chances that one or two of you will find the new employer a poor fit?

  4. Prospective employers are or should be leery that you are all synchronizing your departure from your current employer - what's to prevent all of you from doing the same thing to your new employer?

  5. Employers hire individuals to fill gaps in the team lineup. In other words, they are filling existing empty slots. You are asking employers to modify their organizational structure and ADD your team to their listing of teams. And to give one of their managers to be given the additional responsibility of running your team.You are asking for a lot.

  6. Integrating individuals is hard enough. Here, you are asking your prospective employers to integrate the team as a single, separate unit.You may be asking too much.

If you feel strongly about the team approach, I suggest that you supplement it with individual approaches. If you are approaching a prospective employer with a team approach, make sure that this employer is aware that you are are using a two-pronged approach - one as a team and the other as individuals. On your cover letter as a team, make sure to go over the advantages that hiring you as a team rather than as individuals would bring to your prospective employer. But I tell you right now, the fact that you are all synchronizing your departure from your current employer would be bound to make more than a few prospective employers concerned. And that concern would color their perception of both your applications as a team and as individuals, if you were to use the two-pronged approach. You are going to have to be ready to discuss that concern and meet it head on - assuming that they give you a chance to discuss their concern.

Your chances of successfully applying as a team are much higher if you specifically know say from the grapevine that a prospective employer is looking to hire and deploy an entire team with the collective skills set and experience that your team has. As I had said earlier, the probabilities don't favor your team approach.

Recommendation: unless you specifically know that a prospective employer is looking for a team with your team's qualifications and experience, save yourselves the headache and apply as individuals.

  • This answer is much more helpful after the edit! – user30031 Jan 1 '17 at 23:16
  • This is a great answer and the OP should consider what happens when one or more find the new place to be less than desirable or conversely during the interview process someone in his crew is found to be less than desirable. Do they all walk? This is a huge gamble on both ends. When it comes down to it, every man is for himself and it would be nice to bring the whole team, but hardly reasonable – Mike McMahon Jan 3 '17 at 6:57
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I work on a team that started this way. (I wasn't there when it happened, but have heard about it.) The difference is that they all got laid off at the same time rather than walking out. I believe it worked something like this:

  1. The company they were working for gave them a few weeks notice
  2. Members of the team started calling contacts and telling them, "My whole team just got let go! Do you have any openings?"
  3. By chance one of them was high enough up at their company to get a director's attention and said, "Hey, there's a whole team of very highly skilled engineers losing their jobs in a few weeks. We could really use people with their skills."
  4. This company decided to hire them for a new project.
  5. They were each given individual offers that they could accept or reject separately.

I don't know whether they all accepted or just most of them. They went on to produce a successful product. 15 years later, many of the original members of the team are still on the team working on the project.

So it can happen, but you need a company that can hire a whole team and has something for them to do, or is willing to take a chance on them. While that's probably more likely at a startup, in my case it was a large existing Fortune 500 company. (Note that I have no idea what the legal implications would be if you walked out from your current company rather than got laid off.)

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    The important part of this answer is that the team in question was let go. This is massively different to the whole team deciding to quit. It's actually more common than you might think to see companies considering hiring let-go-teams. I can think of a few example. But no-one in their right mind would look at a team thinking of bailing on their current employer. – GreenAsJade Jan 1 '17 at 9:01
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    I think Point 3 is most important - and i think that they were laid off makes a huge difference. – Sascha Jan 1 '17 at 10:20
  • An example was the team working on the music notation program Sibelius. Avid bought the company and, after a couple of years, closed the London office where the team was based. Steinberg hired most of them to develop their new notation program Dorico. In this highly specialised field, it must have been an interesting challenge to write a new program that didn't use patented techniques from the old one! – Laurence Payne Jan 2 '17 at 13:46
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Very careful - dangerous ground - for one of your contacts acknowledging such a goal, you need to be friends, and they need to like risks. Could be much easier to found your own company together and after a decent time change to another company, under your own responsibility.

Taking over teams from other companies without their consent may not sit well with the original employer - when a single employee leaves it's very difficult to argue that he "can take away a customer with him".

If a team leaves and take customer contacts, projects etc. with them, the original employer will make very sure that they do not take any IP with them developed when they were still employed.

Be prepared to walk out naked - no codebase, fewer customers, and possibly an HR-related lawsuit on your back.

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    Certainly worth checking if their contracts have a clause prohibiting them from recruiting others away from the company for a period after they leave (1 year is typical). As well as non-competes, which are almost certainly relevant -- there's almost no reason another company would take a whole team from another unless they were in the same business. – Matthew Read Jan 1 '17 at 6:16
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While atypical, this is not unheard of. There are even situations where it could be desirable. For example, companies entering the industry that lack experience building software development teams could view this as an opportunity to get a jump start on the real problems they're trying to solve.

There is a startup in Seattle, Elevator, that is trying to create this type of team-based recruiting marketplace. It sounds like exactly what you want. They have a few companies already listed on their front page that are interested in hiring teams.

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    For disclosure, I have made an acquaintance with the CTO of Elevator, but I have no vested interest in their success. – Technetium Jan 2 '17 at 18:15
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This is a very hard thing to do. Simply because another company needing an entire team is something that doesn't happen in a well-run companies, and you want to get into one. Your options are:

  • Be patient and discrete in your lookout until you find someone with matching need. Pro: you minimize the risk of your current employer finding out and firing you. Con: it can take a lot of time, most likely never actually happen.
  • Create the need. Be little more aggressive and pitch your team as a tool to create new product/branch/whatever for prospective employers. Pro: you still get the safety of employment. Con: there is a risk of your current employer finding out (but you can manage it).
  • Quit now and then start looking for new employer. Pros: The team being already free removes any possibility of potential employer ratting you out to the old one. Increased chances of getting employed due to legal situation being pre-cleared. Cons: You need money you don't have to survive few months. The more time passes, the more desperate you get, possibly landing even worse job than you already have.
  • Quit and start your own, independent company. Pro: it has the potential to work out the best possible outcome. Cons: you need lots of seed money you don't have to survive until landing your first client. There is no guarantee you'll ever do.
  • Poach a customer and start own company. This is the most dangerous option. Pros: pretty much best of all worlds. You get own company, job security plus client you already know. Cons: you most likely have a non-compete clause designed to prevent exactly this. Very high risk of a customer staying loyal and ratting you out. Is worth considering only if you can work around your contracts and you already know a customer that's disgruntled with the middleman and hints he wants to poach you. Beware to not confuse reality with your desires, you may think you see an opportunity where there is none.

I don't really think that individual applications can yield a good outcome. In best case scenario, you'll get jobs in same company but different teams and your desire to go over the new hierarchy and keep working together will create distrust. If you want to go as a team, you need to sell yourself as a team, otherwise it could be interpreted as a fifth column.

Any way you choose to go with it, be patient. It will take several times as long as finding a job for one person. For same industry, try to focus on smaller companies which are more flexible than large ones. It's less likely that a large one would have an urgent need that your team can satisfy simply because they can always move people from other teams to patch up. But a large company that wants to branch into a new area (or stop outsourcing) is probably one of the best options.

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I have worked in at least two places where there were significant clusters of coworkers who had shared a previous employer where they bonded professionally and discovered common values, culture and compatibility. It may have seemed "cultish" in some ways but, even though I wasn't a member of the "club", I found that their bonds made perfect sense on many levels, for one that it takes some time to grow comfortable with a team and that such comfort can make the team work better faster than building one from scratch. I should note that in neither case they isolated themselves nor evaded work with others. So I generally like the idea, it is somewhat similar to when a movie director has a somewhat steady crew but is open to new additions while filming the next movie.

Another observation is both instances is that the former associate group was not hired at once in bulk. The process was gradual with one or a couple guys being hired first and used their reputation to vouch for bringing more of their former team mates on board. Each would undergo a regular hiring process. I would recommend this as the most realistic approach because it would mitigate the risk of the employer rather than buying a wagon of apples in bulk, out of which who knows how many are rotten.

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