Losing key employees to competitors allows an organization to engage in external boundary‐spanning activities. It may benefit the organization through access to external knowledge, but may also increase the risks of leaking knowledge to competitors. We propose that the destination of departed employees is a crucial contingency: benefits or risks only materialize when employees leave for competitors that differ from the focal organization along significant dimensions, such as country or status group. In the context of the global fashion industry, we find that key employees’ moves to foreign competitors may increase (albeit at a diminishing rate) their former employers’ creative performance. Furthermore, firms may suffer from losing key employees to higher‐ or same‐status competitors, but may benefit from losing them to lower‐status competitors.