Contacting Company Directly vs Third-Party Recruiter
May 22, 2017 3:30 AM   Subscribe

If a third-party recruiter contacts me regarding specific opportunity, would I have any obligation to go through the third-party recruiter if I have an informal 'market intelligence' chat with them?

I have a professional career and looking for a highly-specific technical job. I have companies identified. Within the companies, I have names and emails of contacts that I believe would be the hiring managers (or within the reporting line). A few of them I have met at a conference or networking event. I am confident about my negotiating skills/ power and I am able to contact these hiring managers directly.

Believe me when I say:

1) There will be less than 10 good candidates for this job, maybe even as few as 5. So having a third-party recruiter will not raise me above the crowd (there is zero crowd)

2) I have terrible experience with third-party recruiters.

My reasons for going directly is that I would be able to tailor my cover letter specifically to these internal company contacts, and that I would have greater bargaining power regarding salary (do not have to pay recruiter fees).

Additionally, I really dislike third-party recruiters, as in my experience, they tend to be very pushy and bargain my salary downwards (so they can close the deal and get paid, as opposed to getting the best deal for me).

The only reason why I am even thinking of talking to recruiters is that they appear to have market information regarding what specific opportunities are available, i.e. they have a soft-test on the market. My knowledge of the job market is more general (i.e. where the new projects are, where the money is going), and so I would have to 'hard-test' by contacting managers directly.

TLDR: If a third-party recruiter contacts me regarding specific opportunity, would I have any obligation to go through the third-party recruiter if I have an informal 'market intelligence' chat with them?
posted by moiraine to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Generally you'd be asked to sign a right to represent contract before you have to worry about obligations to the recruiter. A savvy recruiter could, as a tactic, have the chat with you but not tell you who he's recruiting for (or frankly, tell you next to nothing) to avoid being cut out until he has a RTR.

You could make it especially clear by replying back in writing something along the lines of
"I'm happy to have an informal chat, but this meeting does not grant a right to represent. If we decide to move forward together we can work out those arrangements formally later in writing" and also refusing to sign any paperwork he may push in front of you during the course of the meeting.
posted by Karaage at 3:41 AM on May 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

The issue here is less the terms of your relationship with the recruiter than the recruiter's terms with the company. Some of those agreements will specify that if the recruiter has identified you and spoken with you (even if not formally representing you), the company can't independently recruit and hire you without being in violation of that agreement. A violation like that usually just results in having to pay out the search fee to the recruiter, but the ultimate result is that most companies won't recruit themselves if an external recruiter is already in the mix.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:05 AM on May 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

I mean it sounds like you know they have something of value but want to get out of having them be compensated for gathering that knowledge. Given your stipulations and lack of desire to work with a third party, I'd say don't contact with them and chat. If they send you something unsolicited that's helpful, great, feel free to run with entirely independently
posted by Carillon at 9:41 AM on May 22, 2017

Right, if anyone is following this, I decided to get in touch with third party recruiter nonetheless.

First recruiter had scheduled phone call with me but never called me (despite an email follow up from myself)

Second recruiter never replied. I only assume that their first email was a blanket email to anyone remotely suitable in order to get resumes and market intel.

Ugh! Should have trusted my instincts. 90% of recruiters are the worst people in the world. Will be writing directly to the recruiting managers shortly.
posted by moiraine at 2:20 PM on May 28, 2017

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