Discreet job inquiry?
December 7, 2006 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm employed, but looking for a new job. I'd like to apply for a job with a cool company, but my current company has a content partnership with them. Someone I work closely with manages this business relationship, and I fear it might get back to him somehow if I were to apply. Can I discreetly apply for this position without risking anyone at my current job finding out?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Are you asking the question to know if the content partnership between the two companies prevents you to join your company's partners, like most outsourcing contract does?

If so, I suggest asking to the HR dept or a trusted contact inside the company you wish to join. It is very unlikely it would be in their interest, not to mention unethical, to disclose your inquiry and / or application to your current colleagues.
posted by jchgf at 7:24 PM on December 7, 2006

Sorry anonymous, I obviously skipped the last sentence of your post.

The answer is yes, you can discreetly apply for the position without anyone finding out at your current company. They have no interest in jeopardizing your current position, and most company's HR depts deal with similar situations on a daily basis. You only need to mention to them you are concerned that your current employer doesn't find out about your inquiry or application, and they will understand.
posted by jchgf at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2006

i'd say no. i was in the same situation a few years ago ... and despite the assurances of the cool company, they did ask about me with my current employer. as a result, i was fired.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 8:46 PM on December 7, 2006

Sorry to hear about that, lsp.

Most companies would be cool about it...but the stakes are high. I'm guessing if the company your applying to tells your current employer, you wouldn't get either position.
posted by tremolo1970 at 10:23 PM on December 7, 2006

Gee lesters sock puppet, I believe that's quite actionable. Do speak to an attorney if you're really screwed by that firing.

You should be able to speak to the company without concern.
posted by Goofyy at 11:26 PM on December 7, 2006

You should be able to speak to the company without concern.

And we should all be able to walk through any part of town we like at any time of day without fear of our physical safety. Alas, we're stuck with the world we have, and in this world it's not safe to apply for a job with a cool company with which your current company has a content partnership. As lester's sock puppet has proved beyond any doubt. Surely there are other cool companies out there you could apply to? This sounds to me much like "I think this girl is really hot and I'd like to go out with her, but she's a friend of my current girlfriend. Can I discreetly ask her for a date without risking my girlfriend finding out?" No, dude, you can't.
posted by languagehat at 6:01 AM on December 8, 2006

folks, don't worry. it was a few years ago. also, i was let go around 1 pm, and by 5 i had a job offer from another company.

of course, fast foward to today, and i am yet again unemployed. damn i miss the '90's.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:32 AM on December 8, 2006

yeah, because there's absolutely no difference in morality in this world between professional and personal relationships.

Morality? What the fuck are you talking about? Do you see anyplace I mentioned morality? The poster wants to know whether it's safe to apply at a company closely connected with his current company, not whether it's moral. I'm telling him it's not, and if you're telling him differently, you're wrong. If you're telling him "Hey, you may lose your job, but go for it!"... well, it's easy to be cavalier with other people's lives.
posted by languagehat at 8:41 AM on December 8, 2006

Yes, you can do that. It actually happens all the time. Just specifically ask that they don't contact your company.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 8:56 AM on December 8, 2006

(Even if you didn't ask them not to contact your current workplace, it would be very strange and wrong of them to do so without asking you first.)
posted by Count Ziggurat at 9:00 AM on December 8, 2006

Anon, if you can drop enough hints with the cool company that you would be interested in the job were it offered to you, then maybe they would try to court you a bit, and that would put them in the position of having to be just as careful/discreet about it.
Also, if they're courting you, then your employer is very unlikely to fire you for something the cool company is doing; it's not your fault they're pursuing you.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 9:02 AM on December 8, 2006

Honestly, it comes down to connections. If you have a connection at cool company they'll likely cover you. However, if your boss has a connection at cool company, connection is bound to say to boss: "Hey! Guess who applied to work for me? I'm not saying it's Bob. But it's totally Bob."

Rules are rules, but people are people and they break rules all the time. That said, if you still want to roll the dice, I'd call cool company's HR Dept and ask if you can make a confidential application. If you go through the proper channels, and make your concerns clear, you have the best odds of protection.
posted by GIRLesq at 9:26 AM on December 8, 2006

Maybe I'm misreading the question, but are you sure you haven't signed a non-compete agreement that would prevent such a thing?
posted by Bear at 9:37 AM on December 8, 2006

At-will employment allows either the employer or employee to terminate the relationship at any time. Unless you have a contract specifying the terms of your employment, they don't need a reason to fire you, just like you don't need a reason to quit your job. This situation comes up a lot, and yes, people lose their jobs over it. In my case, even though I requested my employer not be contacted, he was. I wasn't fired, but it made the remainder of my time there extremely uncomfortable. I was determined to leave that particular company anyway, so it was worth it in my mind. You need to decide if the risk of losing your current job is worth the opportunity to apply for this new job.
posted by curie at 10:09 AM on December 8, 2006

My old boss (who hated her job) put out a bunch of applications. On each one she wrote something to the effect of "Please don't contact my current employer without my consent." And of course, someone either failed to read the fine print or didn't bother to follow her directions. Said company called up her current employer and informed them that their employee was currently looking for a new job. They were not very pleased.

My point: are you going to trust a stranger with this much responsibility?

The real question you have to ask yourself: if I assume my current employer will find out, how badly could this effect me? If you can't handle the possible outcome, it's not worth it. If you can, go for it.
posted by JPowers at 11:16 PM on December 8, 2006

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