Apple, Google, Intel, Pixar, Adobe, Intuit — large and prestigious firms — are all named as defendants in an anti-trust lawsuit over their supposed gentleman’s agreement not to poach software engineers from each other. If true, it would mean that if you’re a software engineer at Apple, but you really want to work at Google, well, no Google recruiter was going to call.
This isn’t the first whiff of anti-poaching collusion among these companies, either. In 2010, the Department of Justice came to a settlement around non-solicitation agreements involving six of them.
In fairness, none of these arrangements prevented engineers from applying to other companies. That Apple engineer could apply at Google and be considered for a position. The deal only addressed recruiting efforts.
This comes on the heels of last year’s uproar in New Jersey over job ads that specifically said only currently employed people should apply. In that case, the ads were from several different companies. The result was several states barring the use of such requirements in their postings.
One thing that’s becoming apparent: Companies are going even further in using past employment as a measure of future employability. Where you worked, what you did and how recently you did it are all even more important as they seek to differentiate good candidates from less-than-ideal. Like coding problems or references, a candidate’s work history provides guidance to their skills and qualifications.
What do you think? Is poaching just good hiring practice, or is it ethically questionable? Tell me what you think in the comments below.