Job Search Etiquette
May 15, 2014 7:30 AM   Subscribe

About a month ago I interviewed for a position through a placement agency. The interview went very well. So well, in fact, that the person with whom I interviewed didn't want to see any other candidates and wanted to hire me. Great, right? Well, not so fast...

My interviewer has apparently gone on leave, leaving her information with her supervisor. Her supervisor won't respond to the agency's inquiries, and today I found an ad on the organization's own website that appears to be advertising for the job for which I interviewed. My question is, would it be out of line for me to reach out to the woman who wanted to hire me to ask for a referral for the advertised position? She wanted to give me the job, and she's worked there a long time, but something appears to have gone wrong (not uncommon in large organizations). Is this presumptuous? Would I be out of line? Would this be screwing over my contact at the agency, who is just as frustrated and in the dark as I am on this? (I really don't want to do that, but I also need the work.)
posted by dortmunder to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It would be out of line: leave can mean a lot of things, but almost none of them means she's able to pull strings for you. If they were going off her recommendation, you'd already have the job, wouldn't you?

Talk to the placement agency about the new ad on the organization's website.
posted by RainyJay at 7:53 AM on May 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

People don't suddenly go on leave from their jobs for good reasons. Leave the interviewer alone to deal with whatever she is dealing with.

And take a deep breath on the situation at the company, as well. Hiring is never the priority for the business that it is for the candidates, and even less so when one of your key employees has just suddenly gone on leave. Keep in touch in a low-key way so they know you're still interested, but don't be terribly pushy about this -- they have other things they're worrying about right now and being pushy is only likely to cost you whatever shot you have left at getting this job.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:03 AM on May 15, 2014

I don't understand. If she is on leave, how would you get in touch with her? Bother her at home? That's totally uncool.

Do not do it. The agency should have gotten an acceptance in writing and if the woman who interviewed you told you you had the job, maybe she overstepped her bounds. If the agency person told you without a contract in hand, same thing.

The supervisor may not want to pay an agency fee, or s/he may have disagreed with her decision to hire you. Or s/he may be extremely busy due to having to do two jobs right now. There may be more than one opening. Someone forgot to tell the webmaster to remove the ad.

The best thing your agency can do is to keep looking elsewhere to place you, but remember, they are not working for you, they are working for their clients. If you go around them to talk to a client directly, they are within their rights to drop you like a hot potato. You may have signed something to the effect that you won't talk to their clients directly or accept direct job offers.

I know this is really frustrating, but until you have a firm offer in hand, continue your job search (and think about signing up with more than one placement agency).
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:06 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've noticed people on maternity or medical leave often still check their work emails periodically to handle just this type of situation -- something that's fallen through the cracks, and a very small effort on their part can rectify.

But, if you navigate around the agency then that could cause a problem that not hiring you solves. So, why can't the recruiter send a follow-up email to the work address of the woman who is on leave?
posted by Houstonian at 8:12 AM on May 15, 2014

Of course contact her. The only thing "bad" that can happen (you don't get the job) is already the default outcome. If she has any kind of influence or responsibility in the organization, she is seeing her emails daily despite being on leave. If she has no influence or responsibility, no harm done. The agency may have an agreement with the company that prohibits them reaching out, but that doesn't cover you (unless you signed such an agreement, of course.)
posted by MattD at 8:43 AM on May 15, 2014

Have you contacted the original interviewer at all?
I would definitely not email with a business-transaction could-you-fix-this kind of note, but I would consider writing a (second) followup-thank-you from the interview.
"Hello Jane, Thanks so much for meeting with me about the job last month. I very much enjoyed meeting you and getting to know the organization (etc, blahblah) so I was really happy to hear that you hoped to move forward with offering me the position. I understand that this was a hope, not a promise; if there's any news about the position, I would appreciate the update."
posted by aimedwander at 8:44 AM on May 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

As a piece of anecdata, when my supervisor went on leave, I checked her work email. It's not unheard of.
posted by capricorn at 10:13 AM on May 15, 2014

I've noticed people on maternity or medical leave often still check their work emails periodically...

Which is in most cases against state policy on these types of leaves. So I wouldn't count on it. IMHO, something happened to stall the original process, and the new manager has started all over again. You may be SOL if they are not using agencies this time since you were originally presented by an agency you are toxic in this situation.
posted by Gungho at 11:36 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

The placement agency could contact the company to check the status of the job, and your application; their job is to go to bat for you.
posted by theora55 at 1:43 PM on May 15, 2014

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