When competitors recruit: How to leave your current job gracefully

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Once upon a time, Silicon Valley’s top tech companies agreed not to poach employees from one another. In 2005, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously warned Google’s cofounder Sergey Brin, “If you hire a single one of these people, that means war.”

Of course, that’s not the case now. (In fact, in 2015 Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel and others paid a $415 million settlement to engineers whose pay had been held down due to illegal anti-poaching arrangements.)

In today’s job market, the best way to find talent is to take it from your competitors.

Recruiting company Talentful recently published a new report exposing where tech’s top companies find their talent. Google, for example, hires most heavily from Microsoft and IBM. Facebook draws significant talent from Google, while Microsoft poaches from IBM and Amazon.

Though there’s a lot of trading back and forth, some of the companies have taken more employees than they’ve had poached from them:

  • 12,798 of Google’s employees came from other major tech companies.
  • While Google has taken 4,151 of Microsoft’s staff, Microsoft has taken 896 in exchange.
  • Amazon has swapped a few workers with eBay, giving up 152 employees and taking 218.
  • Apple has poached more employees from Microsoft than anywhere else: 1,334 in total. They’re also keen on people from IBM and Intel.
  • While IBM has taken more staff in total than Dell, they’re vulnerable to their rival's headhunting, having lost 2,302 of their employees to them, while taking 1,753.

“There’s a huge amount of staff trading between companies,” a Talentful rep said. “And every time one company hires a staff member from another, they’re not just bringing in that person -- they’re bringing in their whole network. People like to work with familiar teams who know the way they work, and they end up bringing their colleagues with them.”

But company politics, counteroffers and high emotions can complicate leaving an employer for a competitor. Stephany Samuels, senior VP of people strategy and IT recruiting company Mondo, offers some tips to help you make a graceful exit.

Do resign in person. Although you may be ready to move on quickly, it’s courteous to have a conversation face-to-face instead of over the phone or via email, if possible, she says.

Don’t bad-mouth the company you’re leaving. “While it might not have been the right place for you anymore, don’t paint a bad picture of the company. It can brew insecurity among your coworkers,” Samuels says.

Do leave your manager ample time to replace you before you move on. “If they’ve treated you well, take that into account and give them the notice they’ll need to replace you -- or at least offset your workload while they find a replacement,” she says.

Don’t burn bridges. “At the end of the day, it’s about your success and all of the hard work that brought you there,” Samuels says. “Offending employers or peers when leaving could come back to haunt you. We all know that networks are smaller than they feel.”

Do participate in an exit interview with HR, Samuels says. “Companies appreciate candid and constructive feedback so they can improve and better engage and retain their current employees.”

Related:
Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
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