Poaching clients – who’s game?

Hunter or hunted? To a seasoned recruitment consultant, it’s a fair question when it comes to the many tarnished reputations and careers of those who have seen poaching clients as a quick and easy win, yet soon lose on the receiving end of the law. Harsh? Perhaps. But you only have to look at what’s happening in the real world to see that this isn’t a happy game to play. We’re referring to a recent legal action, where a consultant believed they were in the clear to contact LinkedIn clients they’d connected with and worked with in a previous role. Whatever your own point of view, it’s a worthwhile read… RECRUITER ‘WRONG’

Our professionalism is about the application of honesty, integrity and confidentiality. In return, success naturally follows along with a highly valuable, career-long reputation. Poaching business on the other hand, creates negative competition, and involves operating in an arena alongside less scrupulous recruiters. It’s much harder to sustain  successful business relationships if they start on the wrong terms, as any wins are usually short-lived.

Locking horns

If we dig into the detail of the whole ethical argument, and it’s important that we do, we find that the recruitment consultant will argue with their ex-employer that, not only was it their hard work in building the client relationship which supplied the business in the first place, but also their LinkedIn user agreement backs their right to keep the contacts in their account and treat as their own.

Conversely, the ex-employer will argue that any contacts gathered in salaried work time belong to the company. They will also point out that hiding behind LinkedIn’s user agreement does not supersede the contract of employment or restrictive covenant, which prevents any use of company-owned media to solicit a client in or outside working hours.

With horns locked, there’s nothing left but the inevitable trip to the legal department.

In the spirit of what’s right

For recruitment consultants, legitimately changing jobs to work with another recruitment agency or setting up on your own, doesn’t mean you have to drop your morals and principles to be successful. And for employers, it serves everyone well to not only have very clear policies and well-constructed contracts, but to provide and develop the very best working environment and workplace culture that you’re able, so you can happily retain the talent you already employ. Only then can we all enjoy this fantastic industry with all its opportunities, and avoid the expensive involvement of lawyers.