There will be times in your career when approaching a competing company for a job is a good career move. It does not make you a bad person or disloyal employee. It can be that the job or company you work with is going in a direction that you disagree with.
Maybe the competing company is using an exciting business strategy and you want to be a part of it.
We all live in a world that is connected better than ever before. So, when approaching competitors for a job, keep these tips in mind.
Make sure it is legal
Check your current contract for non-compete clauses and NDA’s (non-disclosure agreement). Violating a non-compete agreement can result in unnecessary problems ranging from lawsuits to a damaged reputation. Companies also protect themselves by asking employees to sign an NDA.
Check your current hiring agreement to make sure you won't get yourself into legal trouble by approaching a competing company for a job. This could mean changing some information on your resume.
It is best not to reveal what you have been working on recently to a competitor!
Never bad mouth anything to get an interview
If two competing companies grew alongside the other, it is likely the company leadership did, too. They could know each other. They could have similar business connections and backgrounds. Because they compete does not mean they do not talk.
If you approach a competitor for an interview only to make negative comments about your current job, this may be communicated back to your present boss.
A competing company will not hire someone who comes off as negative. You will be hired if it makes good business sense to hire a productive, trustworthy employee from a competitor.
Make sure you know who you are contacting
In cases of a direct solicitation, make sure the person who will receive your resume is safe.
“Safe” meaning there is a mutual understanding no one is going to contact your current company.
You should also be respectful and thankful for your competitor's contact. Whether you are hired or not, they are more likely to keep your job search quiet.
Apply and communicate with your own tools
The last thing you need is your name on a company email server to a competitor requesting an interview. Play it safe and use your computer at home.
If you see a rival company is posting jobs online, apply on your own time and with your own devices.
Applying through job boards for competitor companies can also help you protect your identity.
Discretion and timing is the better part of valor
Approaching a competitor for a job can be a high-risk move. Some industries and geographic markets are well-connected.
If for any reason you feel approaching a competitor can cost you your job, wait until the timing is right. Do not make any irrational decisions that could cost you your job or reputation.
The perfect timing to work for a competitor is usually when they reach out to you, first. They know they are suffering without you on their team. If such a thing happens, keep it discreet.
You are showing the competing company you can be trusted if you reach out to them in the future.