back to article Man accused of using LinkedIn to steal clients

An ex-employee of recruitment firm Hays has been ordered to disclose details of his profile at social networking site LinkedIn. Mark Ions set up a rival agency and is accused of using LinkedIn to steal clients. He says Hays encouraged his use of the site. Ions worked for Hays Specialist Recruitment for six and a half years …


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  1. JonRB
    Thumb Down

    Are you linked with the person or the agency?

    Interesting case. One could argue that the LinkedIn links are between individuals. In other words, each person agreed to link with Mark and not necessarily Hays as such.

    I for one only accept LinkedIn invites from agents I have dealt with personally and refuse ones from a different agent from the same agency.

    If that agent moved to another agency I would expect to retain a LinkedIn relationship with them personally rather than another agent at their previous agency.

  2. Mark

    We should stop expecting a job for life

    though that doesn't mean we should be looking to leave...

    Jeez. Companies treat you like shit, can you for short term profit or because you embarrassed someone. But if you work to leave your job (and lets not forget, we're supposed to give a months notice and can get kicked to the kerb for daring to leave), they see this as "disloyalty" rather than "entrepreneurial".

  3. Vikash Joshi
    Paris Hilton

    Tough one to call

    Mmm, thats a tough one. Does the fact that LinkedIn has nothing to do with Hays give him a way out? I think its a little unfair to use a social network site to prove that he has stolen details.

    What about if he had made a note of phone numbers on a piece of paper before he went? People have been doing that for years!!

    Paris: Because she's been dirty online too!

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Old News

    This used to be the standard approach for stealing clients 1+ years back. It was practised by various scum working for various lowlife agencies.

    Step 1: Copy the company contact database (or the "interresting" portion of it)

    Step 2: Convert company contact database to CSV

    Step 3: Upload the lot onto LinkedIn as personal contacts

    Sept 4: Send invites to everyone.

    Step 5: Leave (with a large portion of the contacts with you).

    It stopped working the moment LinkedIn introduced the 5 strikes and out system. Once this was in place step 4 usually lead to the lowlife scum being marked as spammers and having his account restricted. Prior to that it was quite popular - I was getting an invite like that at least once a week (and reporting it as SPAM).

    Overall - a classic example of how much do the lowlife scum actually value your personal data and how much do they obey the data protection act.

    Anyway, nothing new to see here, move along, where's me coat?

  5. Jamie


    I had put the names and numbers of people I dealt with in my mobile before I left my last job as "shit bucket" for a software firm. when the customer's found out I was leaving they wanted me to take thier details in case they had any issues as they did not trust the other people at the company.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's the boundary?

    Is this data theft? Or is this something that people used to do all the time but because it wasn’t on the ‘web’ people couldn’t find out about it? I think it is the latter. We all create contacts while at work, and some are more organized than others and file them, others, like myself, have a large pile of business cards with notes on them. I guess that if you are a recruiter, you too would have a large pile of business cards - and if you invite people on LinkedIn, well, isn’t that also something we all do?

    Should companies look at banning LinkedIn, in the same way as they did with FaceBook? Only to find it wasn’t practical, people would spend more time finding a way around the system, than they would using it - so we have seen a reverse of this trend. So, no, it shouldn’t be banned. Should it be subject to (yet another social networking) policy? Something that defines the boundary between work and not-work. Perhaps… but I would think that people would just add the contacts while at home. I don’t think you can be banned from doing that after all it’s what LinkedIn is all about - keeping up with friends and colleagues in a business context. Maybe companies need to create their own ‘company’ LinkedIn accounts - so that, if nothing else, they have a copy of the information as well.

    The way to look at this is that when someone new joins your company, they bring with them their contacts - rather than when they leave, they take them away.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I had a pound for every agent...

    ...that had handed my details to his/her new employer, I'd have about 100 quid.

    I thought copying the client database was part of the normal modus operandi in these sort of places.

    Have Hays ever employed an experienced agent where they didn't expect him/her to contact former clients? What's the difference - the percentage of clients involved?

  8. Anonymous Coward


    All the agents i have dealth with are scum, its like shit-in shit-out. why are they even bothering with this.

    When they take people on they expect them to bring contact from their old agency.

    Fuck them i say.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Actually, I have to admit it depends. Did Hays -really- ask him to use LinkedIn? I would believe it, with the experiences I've had in the past.

    On top of that, why would an organization like Hays pick one person over the other for a job? Their charming smile?

    No. They'll pick the person with the better contacts.

    Wake up, the knife cuts both ways.

  10. James Butler

    Why not?

    There are really only 2 scenarios:

    1) You hire an agency and expect to work with them.

    2) You hire an agent and expect to work with them.

    If an agent leaves the agency, the only question that remains is whether the client(s) are under contract to keep working with that agent, or if they are under contract to keep working with the agency.

    Most agencies, for various industries, are simply professional associations that bring nothing besides their name and their group of agents to the table. The agency, itself, has no contacts, and they really have no clout beyond the brand recognition their name engenders.

    Here in Los Angeles, for example, a movie star might be under contract with Creative Artists Agency. Under the terms of that contract, they may end up being represented by an agent who arranges for work for the client. Of course, CAA can't arrange for work ... it's a corporate entity. The agent, herself, wouldn't even have any access to the client if they were not working for CAA, yet the agent probably maintains their own industry contacts which they mine to provide work opporunities for the CAA clients who are assigned to them.

    When the CAA agent leaves the company for, say, William Morris Agency, the client's contract stays with CAA, and CAA then assigns another agent to the client. If the client doesn't like that arrangement, then they can (often) buy out their contract in order to sign a new one with William Morris, and then to continue to be represented by the agent who jumped ship.

    If Hays' agreements with their clients are actually contracts between the clients and the agents, then Hays has not got much to complain about. They provide business services to their agents for a percentage of the contract's worth and the agent secure the contracts and do the work. The clients are not, in fact, Hays' clients.

    However if the contracts are between Hays and the clients, then the agents can not simply "steal" the clients without the client first compensating Hays for the remainder of their contract. Any client who decides to continue being represented by an ex-agent would need to shell out some dough to buy out their Hays contract before they could sign a new one with the ex-agent, or the ex-agent's new company.

    If Hays failed to protect themselves, then I have not got much sympathy for them.

    It's not as simple as a bag checker at a local grocer opening up their own grocery nearby and siphoning off customers from their old employer, and Hays should be aware of the differences as they relate to their industry.

  11. Jay Cooper

    Hmmmm, interesting

    I'm a massive user of Linkedin. I find it to be a brilliant and invaluable resource. I consider it mine and not my companies and like this chap would fight tooth and nail to keep it. My network includes a lot of old customers. In my view it's no different to picking up a phone and speaking with them, and there is no law against that (at least not the last time I checked...........)

    THe only thing I can think of which would even give Hays (who I have used before and they are shit....actually, beyond shit.....complete detrious of the worst kind) a leg to stand on is they were paying for their agent to use the premier package and not the free version. Then maybe, just maybe they'd be able to do something about it.

  12. Ryan
    Paris Hilton

    I suppose...

    As a recruiter (thankfully not working for Hays), I'd consider everything I do to source candidates and find them roles to be the intellectual property of the company I work for. Naturally it's a bonus when another agency recruits an experienced agent who comes with their own contacts, however I don't see the need to carry databases with you when you leave. If you're a good agent (quiet you non-believers, some of us have integrity!), you should be able to start from scratch elsewhere with just an internet connection and a phone.

    If you bring clients with you then that's an obvious plus, but you don't need linkedin for that, nor do you need to steal data/resources either, that stuff's just a sweetner when there's nothing to differentiate you from the other agents.

    Reputation is everything in this game - candidates should seek YOU out on linkedin because they're happy with how you work and you get results.

    Seems to me with the struggling market right now Hays is just desperate for some cash!

    Paris, because she knows all about head-hunting...

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