Adventures in job-searching
June 6, 2013 10:44 AM   Subscribe

How do you tactfully make it clear to another organization that you’d be happy to be poached away from your own company to work for them?

I work for an organization (I’ll just call it Company A), where I’ve done some research in the past year that has gained a bit of traction in my field. A colleague recently introduced me to president of another organization (for our purposes, Company B), and he invited me to come to his offices to speak with him and one of his employees about the work I’ve been doing, as they are in the early stages of producing some materials that fall in the same vein as my research. I went over there today, and we had a nice, productive conversation where we got to know one another’s work and agreed that we should keep in contact over the next few months and look for ways to collaborate. Lovely.

Add to that:
Company A is in an extremely transitional state, and I’m not sure that there is a future for my work here. (I work in a small office within a very large organization, and the focus of my work is generally not something that this organization is widely known for). There has recently been a large round of layoffs, and although I survived, it’s clear that my area of focus is outside of this organization’s priorities. I’ve been keeping an eye out for other jobs but haven’t found a good enough fit yet, in my small field. My colleague who introduced me to the president of Company B, however, feels strongly that this person is interested in branching out much further into the type of work that I do, and will need to take on more staff to do so. The one staff member that he does have who is doing work in my area (who was also the other person at today’s meeting), was hired after she was introduced to the president (by my same colleague, incidentally) at a conference last year. So, here’s the deal: I am very interested in the possibility of working for Company B, but don’t know how to even begin to suggest to them that I’d be happily willing to be poached away from Company A. And it seems like the kind of situation where I can’t just wait for a vacancy announcement to appear, because they just hired someone in a more direct way than that last time. Is there some kind of professional protocol or etiquette for these situations? I’m sure it happens all the time. I don’t want to let an opportunity pass me by, but we’ve only had one meeting and I feel like it’s too forward if I just tell them that I’m looking for work and would be very interested in working for them. I’d appreciate any advice on what to do, especially from anyone who has been in a similar situation.
posted by ella_minnow to Work & Money (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Hey, President of B, I feel like A's business is beginning to move away from my particular area of focus. Given that you're in the industry, could you keep me in mind if you hear of any opportunities among your peers?"
posted by bfranklin at 10:55 AM on June 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'd check out their site to see if there are any positions posted. If there are, just send an email, "I really enjoyed our conversation about collaborating on X. I see that you have an opening and I'm interested in applying for it. What can you tell me about it?"

If no opening exists, what bfranklin said is pretty good.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:01 AM on June 6, 2013

"[Jane], thanks again for giving me a chance to come speak to [Mike] about my research. I think we had a productive conversation, and the projects you have underway are an interesting application of my own work. Mike and I said we'd stay in touch about opportunities for collaboration, but have you considered bringing on a [researchologist] full time? I think the work you're doing could support it. I've been looking at moving in-house, and I'd love to discuss this with you further."

Or something like that. I completely get where you're coming from--like you've had one date and are proposing marriage--but this is how so much business gets done.

Be bold! Good luck!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:01 AM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Honestly, the fact that they asked you to talk to them may very well be an opening gambit.
posted by xingcat at 11:32 AM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I see two possibilities. One, send them a thank you note for the meeting and reiterate your willingness to "work with them" (use that instead of collaborate, they can take it literally or not) going forward. Or, two, call the President, thank him, see where the conversation goes, and if he does not propose something early on, ask him to meet after work to further the conversation, you have some ideas. (Make it clear it is professional and not a personal meeting) Ask the prez directly after a drink or two.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:54 AM on June 6, 2013

It sounds like you've already started a conversation with Company B that indicates that you're interested in working with them. (Nobody has a meeting like the one you had without the implicit acknowledgment that you're testing each other out for future employment.)

At this point you could probably just send an email or make a phone call saying "I'd love to continue the conversation about how we can work together in the future. Are you available to chat sometime next week?" They're the employer and you're an employee, so they'll know what you mean.
posted by Kololo at 11:57 AM on June 6, 2013

Honestly, the fact that they asked you to talk to them may very well be an opening gambit.


And if you express interest without putting them on the spot by saying "Here I am responding to your opening gambit," you're cool either way.

If they were fishing, you just nibbled, albeit in a sort of oblique way. If they weren't, now it's clear you're fishing and they're free to nibble. (And if they're not interested, they can just say "Sorry, we don't have any openings" or whatever and nobody loses face.)

So what you do is, you don't openly acknowledge that you think they were making a move at you, you just act like you're making a first move at them. But you do it with extra confidence, because deep down you know they probably were making a move at you after all.

/tends to overthink this stuff
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 12:49 PM on June 6, 2013

Response by poster: Honestly, the fact that they asked you to talk to them may very well be an opening gambit.

Sooort of. The meeting was mostly set up because my colleague emailed an introduction along the lines of "Hey - you guys should meet!" -- so it wasn't completely on president of B's initiative that this happened. Having said that, while we were discussing my work they did ask a little about my background and other work experience today, in a way that felt interview-ish, so that's promising.

Thanks so much for the advice so far. I just sent a thank-you email where I tried to be more direct with the I'd-like-to-work-with-you sort of language, as opposed to the more vague let's-stay-in-touch language that I probably would have relied on if left to my own devices.
posted by ella_minnow at 2:38 PM on June 6, 2013

Yeah, but did this colleague make the introduction at your request? If not, then I'm guessing the request followed a conversation between President and colleague. Maybe President B was talking to colleague about wanting to find a [researchologist (lol)], and colleague said "Ella would be great, let me introduce you." Maybe even President was talking to someone about their desire to hire you, and this someone said "let's see... who knows Ella... hmm, A, B, Colleague..." and President said "oh, I'm having lunch with Colleague next week, so I can ask them to introduce me then."
posted by salvia at 3:30 PM on June 6, 2013

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