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A few months ago, I left a small software development company for another (based in the UK). I was leaving for better career development and exposure to new technology that the first company simply could not provide. Nevertheless, with my colleagues and managers, we parted ways on good terms. Nowadays, I know from my friends still in the company that they are struggling to find a replacement for me, the explanations for this are never given by the managers conducting the interviews - what few they arrange - and I felt it was inappropriate for me to ask further.

I recently received an email from my former CEO, whom I got along well with but only spoke to maybe once a week at most. She admitted what my former colleagues had mentioned, that they are having a hard time finding someone to fill my role. She reasons that as someone looking at the job's advert from the outside, I could offer suggestions on how to make it look more appealing. She at least confirmed that the job is indeed the exact same one I was doing before; no changes there.

As you might expect, my current employment contract says that I cannot conduct work for another company without first clearing it with my new manager. While I don't think this would count as 'work', I imagine it would still look bad on me if I am found helping my former boss. I have seen the advert and a possible reason for lack of interest stands out immediately; their offered salary is significantly lower than what I was getting (even compared to my first year in the job). I suspect - though cannot be certain - that the reason for the low salary being offered is because it is similar to what my co-workers earn, which may cause some disruption if I mention to my former colleagues or boss.

My questions is: Would it be appropriate to offer feedback on the advert of my old job?

  • Possibly worth mentioning that if you do advise them to keep the communication around it to outside of your normal office hours, so it doesn't appear to be impacting the new role. – gabe3886 May 10 '17 at 16:22
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    "I imagine it would still look bad on me if I am found helping my former boss" Are the companies competitors? If not, it's none of your current company's business. (edit: no pun intended) – Michael May 10 '17 at 16:52
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    This sounds like a good opportunity to do good things for someone you appreciate. Anytime you can help a professional or company will only pay dividends later and will make you look more like a team player. I do not see this as consulting. That would be too formal a description for such a small and simple favor. Do not worry about it but do mention it to your new boss. It is likely they will be tickled pink! – closetnoc May 10 '17 at 18:32
  • "I don't think this would count as 'work'..." to support that viewpoint I'd suggest keeping whatever feedback you give brief; offer an opinion, but not an analysis. – Dan Henderson May 10 '17 at 19:13
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    I can't see "giving an ad a once-over" would cause problems (though as an answer mentions, you could always check with your boss). Another possibility, given your amicable parting, is that the contact may be a discreet "if the new job's not working out as well as you'd hoped, we haven't filled your old job yet..." – TripeHound May 11 '17 at 9:01
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As you might expect, my current employment contract says that I cannot conduct work for another company without first clearing it with my new manager.

My questions is: Would it be appropriate to offer feedback on the advert of my old job?

I don't believe offering suggestions on a job advertisement is considered conducting "work for another company". I assume you wouldn't be paid for your efforts.

I also don't think your current company would care if you offered these suggestions and I don't see that it would make you look bad in any way. If anything, it makes you look helpful.

But if you are concerned here, then simply ask your new manager if it's okay.

I've often stayed in contact with good former managers and helped them in many ways similar to what you are suggesting. Still do. It was never a problem.

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    I should have emphasised I'm not being paid for it. You're right, it's not too different from recommending friends in the field for the job; the end goal is the same. – user34587 May 10 '17 at 13:01
  • Upvoted. I personally do consider it work (as would any HR professional I suspect, as that's part of their job). However, as long as you aren't doing it on company time or to poach their employees, I can't see your new manager objecting to it, and they ought to appreciate your showing respect for the contract with them. – T.E.D. May 10 '17 at 14:46
  • I can imagine that legally it could be considered a consulting on behalf of other company which does create a conflict of interests in the field of employee hiring, even though the whole consulting is "Raise salary, it's sub par." and this particular use-case is silly, it boils down to asking a manager "Hey, can I tell my former company, their job offer for my spot sucks 'cause they offer way too low money?"... Oh, world. – luk32 May 10 '17 at 15:08
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    @QPaysTaxes: And if you have that conversation with the current boss I would also include the reason you are asking them. If somebody came to me with that question I'd be like "Errr... yes... Why are you asking me?" – Chris May 11 '17 at 0:51
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    @QPaysTaxes: I genuinely would be surprised for something this trivial. I mean, its reading two paragraphs of text and commenting on it. Its like a minute to give an opinion on something that your existing employer would likely never know you've done unless you told them. If a previous employer was asking them to read their 100 pages of documentation and suggest improvements then I'd understand it more but a brief comment on a job description? Not so much. Besides, I can't see that giving the explanation for why you are asking is ever going to be a bad thing so you might as well. – Chris May 11 '17 at 9:51
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I think it would be appropriate in this case.

It would be inappropriate if your last boss was asking you to meet with potential recruits to sway them into joining your previous company or asked you to write a better description of your past job.

You shouldn't feel obligated to help her if it causes you a lot of stress, but at the same time I don't see a problem in you writing a quick response back to her explaining that recruiting someone at that level will probably require a larger starting salary. This shouldn't come off insulting to her or your former colleagues. It might even make her realize that she is paying her employees below the average, which might be a reason for losing you in the first place.

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    "It would be inappropriate if your last boss was asking you to meet with potential recruits to sway them into joining your previous company" - yeah, it would also be pretty stupid. After all they would be talking to the one person who definitely didn't want that job any longer ;-) – AllTheKingsHorses May 10 '17 at 14:41
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I believe you are simply helping an acquaintance on a personal basis. No conflict there. However, if you are not comfortable doing it, then don't

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