I am switching jobs, both are in IT, relatively overlapping skill-wise and in the very same city.

At my previous job I have been actively involved in recruitment, up to co-defining the strategy, actively leading several recruitment processes, having sourced at least a few hires myself, hired another few from other sources, taken part in recruitment of next tens of employees, and I have access to lists of hundreds of other not-hired candidates.

In that process at the company we have gathered a lot of contacts, also these which didn't end up being recruited for several reasons - also including ones that are not definitive obstacle - e.g. decent people with a bit too high financial expectations for what was the budget then, or people who nearly decided for joining but stayed at current job, etc.

The new company obviously will want to use my experience in recruitment, and potential some knowledge of the market, etc. Although if that changes anything, recruitment is not in my job description for the new job.

Now, my dilemma is - how much of this knowledge and information I can use in my next company? This seems a bit similar to how sales people transfer their customer portfolio when joining competition, as recruitment is very similar to sales in some aspects.

I know this is a lot of gray area. Some data points are clearly white to me - like a past candidate actively reaching out to myself after being notified on LinkedIn I switched companies. Some are clearly black to me - like me influencing the ongoing recruitment processes at my previous job, etc.

Can you provide some assistance on where to draw the line? Or how to approach it?

(I am aware this has a legal aspect to it in EU. My loyalty towards the soon to be previous job is beyond what is legal and not)

  • I think I can see what you're getting at but this is worded in a pretty vague manner. Are you asking about how to navigate that transition? What knowledge or procedures you can carry over? Or are you specifically talking about contacting people you previously interviewed? Because in that I do see a clear line: poaching people currently in the recruitment process at your former company is clearly wrong with pretty y much anything else being fair game.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 18:47
  • @Lilienthal, yes, I specifically mean contacts to candidates. "pretty y much anything else being fair game." - is kind of an answer. At least one of several I can imagine. Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


I think you can do a lot of things. You can even recommend people working for your current employer to your new employer. However, you should always consider that your new employer will understand the nature of such activities and conclude that you'd do the same thing to him in the future if the opportunity arises. It's a little delicate and best avoided unless there's a really good reason why someone should work for your new employere. Where I've worked it was kind of normal that really good people got recommended by former colleagues. You're definitely on the safe side if you talk to the person first to ask and they let you know that they're looking for a new opportunity. They might also apply first and then you can give your opinion, which is much gentler with regard to the impression you make.

I strongly advise against taking any files with you. This should even be obvious.

But you can take your memory along: Recommending people based on their skill set as you remember it or the impression they left in an interview seem totally fine to me. Just don't talk about more delicate details like for instance the money they wanted. I would consider this information confidential, and it can also have changed over time.

In general it seems advisable to me to avoid negative statements about anyone, but positive statements are usually okay. Just make it clear that obviously you can't talk about now but only the last time you saw the person.

Common rule: Be a gentleman. Remember that everyone involved may get to know what you're doing, including the candidates, and they might also be asked about you somewhere sometime. Don't give them a grudge. Rather save each other time and effort and embarrassment, treat everyone the way you'd want to be treated. Verify everything you're about to do based on these standards and you should be on the safe side and collect positive Karma in the process.

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