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Going for a fresh round of new hires seems like a hectic, mind-boggling job. You probably fear scores of new graduates with zero experience eyeing the most challenging positions or demanding the best incentives. Or perhaps, even your advertisement for experienced applicants hasn’t yielded many positive results.

At this point, you have another option you may consider: hiring employees through mutual contacts.


How Do You Get Employees From Colleagues?

Well, it’s pretty simple. You can ask your colleagues to keep you updated about ex-colleagues with who they may have remained in contact. 

If you’re still not entirely sure that those employees, once free from their current jobs, will apply to your positions, here’s what you can do: Ask for referrals. This could result in your ability to hire an experienced engineer without having to train them. In addition to the time and money you save on training, you also get a first-hand recommendation from someone you trust concerning the new engineers work ethic and characteristics.

But before you dial up your years-old colleague, ask yourself: Is it currently a good idea to look for employees this way? You’ll find that the answer is probably not that clear or linear. Here are a few indicators that can tell you why hiring a mutual colleague may or may not be a good idea.

You Can Consider Hiring This Way When:

You Trust the Colleague

It may sound bitter, but loyalties and friendships can turn out to be problematic in the professional world. Although not everyone around you is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it’s worth it to have a bit of scepticism from time to time. 

So let’s talk about the colleague you’re thinking of hiring from. Do you trust them? Are they a competitor? Have you witnessed their ethical practices? Or have you till now only witnessed their talk on community reliance and mutual growth and a series of lectures on professional morality? Evaluate some of the personality traits they share with other employees to determine if it might be a good match. 

Make sure not to end up with a poor hire through a lack of asking the hard questions. Trusting a colleague fully can lead to great recommendations and efficient use of time for everyone. 

You Can Afford Their Salary

If you’re getting employees from competitors, you should look into their salaries for those employees. 

For example, let’s say an employee previously working under one of your colleagues has a solid monthly salary. If this employee leaves the current workplace for a better opportunity, they’ll most probably also look for higher salaries, better bonuses, and other perks of a new, improved job.

Considering this, you have to ask yourself whether or not you’ll be able to afford a higher pay for that employee. Maybe you can manage. But what if you have multiple employees incoming? Can you raise the package values for all of them? If you do, would this upset the balance with your current team?

If you’re hiring for experience, then you’ll have to pay more. Yes, this does mean you’ll have to re-evaluate your budget or maybe slow down a few projects, but a new workforce with better work quality may ensure more profitable outcomes in the long run.

You Shouldn’t Consider Hiring This Way When:

You’re Starting Out New

If you have a freshly brewed start-up, then it’s most probably a bad idea to hire from your former colleagues or competitors. You may think that hiring from acquaintances will help you form an experienced workforce, and that may be true. However, you shouldn’t forget that you’re now also running a business. You may find it difficult to tend to a herd of experienced professionals or juniors that need your attention. Don’t sacrifice structure and the ability to organise your team.

You Can’t Find Employees Who Match Your Requirements

If you ask your colleagues or business circles to help you in your employee hunt, they’ll probably refer to the best ones they have in mind.

With that said, even when an employee has a raving referral, you may do a thorough analysis of their skills. If their skill set doesn’t match your requirements, there’s no use in hiring them.


Hiring from colleagues or competitors is risky but often worth it. Of course, it is necessary to evaluate how safe the option might be under your specific circumstances! 

If you’re interested in learning more, the book No Rules Rules looks into Netflix’s culture that encourages internal growth and hires and retains the best employees.  We highly recommend it to anyone interested in the topic of internal recruitment. 

Mohammed Adris is a co-owner & director at Responsum Global. He has over 8 years of experience matching the top building services engineering talent with the best employers. He has over 50 written success stories. He’s active on LinkedIn, is a host on The Building Services Podcast, and a regular writer on The Building Services Blog. He’s a dad of 2 & a petrol head.


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