Today I see in Slashdot a suggestion that there’s some sort of a no-poaching agreement among big Silly-Valley tech companies. I’d never heard of such a thing until, by chance, yesterday. I was flying from San Francisco to Vancouver and was talking to the guy in the next seat (it’s remarkable what a conversation piece the Galaxy Tab is). He said he worked in Microsoft’s Valley office and at some point in the conversation told me that you couldn’t jump either way between, specifically, Microsoft and Apple; that if you were talking to a recruiter from the one, they’d drop you if you came from the other. He said “They do that to keep people from going back and forth to get raises.”



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From: Attila (Sep 18 2010, at 14:53)

It only means that if you want to go from one to the other, you need to quit your current job first before applying for the one you aspire to.

You could say it requires a leap of faith to jump boats.

It's actually probably good for both companies, as the candidate then demonstrates commitment - if you quit your old job, you aren't only interviewing with the other company (and wasting their time) to force a raise at the old place.

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From: len (Sep 18 2010, at 16:35)

Seems like loyalty, appreciation and honor mean not much in the valley so the powers have to create their own detente.

And we wonder why the profession isn't attractive to the fairer sex. Werewolves.

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From: Matt (Sep 18 2010, at 16:46)

When I was at Nortel around 2000, we were told quite explicitly about a similar agreement in the telecoms industry. This wasn't a secret or a rumor; it was part of the HR orientation for a bunch of entry- and mid-level software engineers.

And of course it's good for the *companies*, but I think the effect on salaries isn't the primary goal. It always struck me more as a retention tactic; a disincentive to leave.

Personally I find it inherently corrupt; a small group of large employers conspiring to reduce opportunity in the field is a pretty indefensible position. But it's clearly a tempting one; computing professionals tend to believe they work in a meritocracy rather than a market, and this makes us quite susceptible to this sort of abuse.

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From: Matt B (Sep 18 2010, at 16:53)

A "suggestion"? The companies in question are currently negotiating payments to the DOJ to avoid a court battle. It's far more than just a "suggestion"...

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From: dbt (Sep 18 2010, at 17:07)

As usual, the only way to get ahead in silicon valley is to go to a startup instead. Even if just to get acquired again by google/facebook/whatevs 6 months later for a much bigger pile of stock than your annual bonus.

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From: Duncan Ellis (Sep 18 2010, at 21:10)

Since I started working in the States ten years ago, the only way that I have had a meaningful pay rise was by switching jobs.

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From: Tom Welsh (Sep 19 2010, at 07:23)

Yet another hole in the ragged image of the "free market". You have to be very gullible indeed to believe that mysterious market forces determine appropriate pay rates and make sure that all jobs are filled by qualified people.

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From: PeterL (Sep 22 2010, at 21:59)

I had simultaneous offers from Google and Microsoft (and I was working at Yahoo when recruiters from both companies called me). This was 3+ years ago.

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From: Robert Young (Sep 23 2010, at 05:21)

Hartford, CT is a one industry town: insurance and many companies which cater to it. Not only is there no poaching among the insurances, but also between any one of them and the vendor companies. Keeps the worker bees in there place.

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