I really want this job. Can I say so?
June 28, 2006 10:50 AM   Subscribe

[HR/employmentfilter] Is it very unorthodox or unacceptable to 'circumvent' an agency who put you forward for a job and ask questions of the employer directly? (UK if it matters)

A (very small, specialised) HR agency has put me forward for a job at a (very small, specialised) company.
This job sounds really fabulous, I very much want it, and I am fairly confident I would be good at it .
Agency person is lovely, and I have absolutely no doubts about her trust in my abilities and the effort she puts in for me.
But I really really want this job. And I somehow feel I would be better at telling these people myself because they would hear it in my own words and not those of agency-person.
Also at a previous job interview she got me it turned out she had messed up the job specs, i.e. the interview I went for was for job 1B, and she had told me I was going for job 1A, which had already been filled. It wasn't a huge difference in specifics, but still.

Sooo my question is this:

Would it be very objectionable / unacceptable / an absolute nono to contact the company directly to
1. tell them how very interested I am and how amazingly well I would fit in and
2. ask them for clear job specifics to avoid confusion and to properly prepare for the interview?

Would that leave a bad impression with the employer because I circumvent agency person and am being sneaky?
Or would they be favourably impressed because I am obviously very eager?
(and it's not like I'm cheating the agency out of their commission or anything. it would still go through them)

And also, would/will agency person be very pissed off if/when she finds out?
(because obviously if I do not get this job I want her to keep looking for me)

Or should I simply ask agency person if it's ok for me to contact the company? (obviously leaving out the "you messed up the job specs last time" bit. she really is lovely)

Sorry for rambling on. (and no it really is just one question! *ahem*)
posted by ClarissaWAM to Work & Money (11 answers total)
In my opinion, you probably should just let the agency handle it, even though they messed it up last time. The company is probably using an agency so that they don't have to deal with each individual potential applicant. It might reflect poorly on you if you do call them, you should probably just use the interview as a forum to express your interest.
posted by necessitas at 11:03 AM on June 28, 2006

Hm yeah I get your point, but considering she has put me forward for the job and they are prepared to meet me, we can assume I have passed the original "can't be bothered with every silly applicant" stage.

But yes, you're probably right, I should just wait for the interview to make an impression. I'm just a bit worried I'll come across as a fool because I'll turn up with only a vague idea of what they want.

Perhaps I'll bug her again to get detailed/definite specifics instead.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 11:11 AM on June 28, 2006

Don't contact them directly. It will likely violate the contract that they have with the agency, and reflect poorly upon you as a result. It's not worth the small potential gain.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:14 AM on June 28, 2006

Since these are small companies, why not phone your agency rep and ask if could/should add a handwritten note to be included w/your cover letter and resume, in which you'd invite the company to contact you personally, if they wish.
posted by desuetude at 11:14 AM on June 28, 2006

This is tantamount to hiring a painter to do the walls in your den, then grabbing a brush because you're not sure he'll do it the way you want. In the end, you'd proably get in each other's way and botch the whole thing. I say let the agent do her job.

If your CV is good enough to warrant a face-to-face interview with the potential employer, you'll have that opportunity to represent yourself. Perhaps contact the agent prior to her or you talking with the employer to make sure the facts are straight this time.

Also, over-eagerness is often a negative, rather than a positive, attribute.

On preview: yeah, what you said.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 11:16 AM on June 28, 2006

If your agency person is as lovely as you say, why not ask her if she minds?

Otherwise, one idea is to ask your recruitment consultant to see if there's a person at the company you can speak to to get a better idea of what it's like to work there. Once you're speaking to that person you can get contacts for anyone. Generally speaking I would say that you're fine to speak to the company directly only after you've met someone there once. Before that point it's a bit more dubious. Always keep the agency in the loop, if only to avoid looking sneaky.
posted by patricio at 11:21 AM on June 28, 2006

Oh how I love AskMefi.

The consensus is pretty overwhelming so I shall follow your advice.
(desuetude - the CV has already been sent. it does contain my email address)

Thanks everyone!!!

on preview - thanks patricio, I may well do that, that's a great idea. By the way when I said very small, I did mean very - this particular office has 3 people.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 11:25 AM on June 28, 2006

I concur with all the above, but for whatever it matters in this case and the future - don't be afraid to flat-out tell the agency, "I am very jazzed about this job, and I just want to make sure the same mistakes that happened last time don't happen this time." These people are doing a job that they're getting paid for, and part of their getting paid is contingent on representing attractive candidates (you). Just because you don't take the money straight out of your pocket and hand it to them doesn't mean they don't represent you.

If you were doing a job and screwed something up, wouldn't you think it was fair for your boss to gently remind/goad you the next time it came up? Wouldn't you feel justified in asking your laundry service to be careful not to rip the buttons of a shirt again? There's no shame or fault in politely asking someone to do their best for you.
posted by phearlez at 12:06 PM on June 28, 2006

you can join LinkedIn and see if you know anyone-that-knows-anyone working there....
posted by Izzmeister at 1:01 PM on June 28, 2006

These people are doing a job that they're getting paid for, and part of their getting paid is contingent on representing attractive candidates (you). Just because you don't take the money straight out of your pocket and hand it to them doesn't mean they don't represent you.

Yeah, they represent you, but whether they put you forward for any or all jobs depends entirely on whether the recruiter likes you. Acting like an ass (or overly entitled with a you work for me attitude) can be a quick way to make sure somebody doesn't like you.

Look out for your own interests sure. You don't need to be a pushover or overly obsequious, but keep the power dynamic in mind and understand that it's all about building relationships.
posted by willnot at 1:46 PM on June 28, 2006

Yeah, they represent you, but whether they put you forward for any or all jobs depends entirely on whether the recruiter likes you.

True, however you are the product they are moving and it is unarguable that where a person can find employment w/o an agency, and agency cannot do business w/o a person to put into a job. That's the reality of "the power dynamic." Yes, being a dickhead will get you put at the back of the line if there's people they hate less with the same qualifications and it's certainly possible to be such a knob that they won't endanger their larger business by letting you alienate the employers. If you want a good idea of exactly the degree of dickhead that goes on and is tolerated you can check out a site a friend of mine writes primarily about being a recruiter but also with bits of advice about resumes and working with recruiters, Magic Pot o Jobs.

None of this, however, has anything to do with being firm about your needs and desires, and you'll notice that I concluded with "politely asking." This is business and a huge percentage of the population manages to be resolute and serious about their needs and expectations without being complete jerkoffs, despite the impression you might get from some apparently seriously offered advice in AskMe....
posted by phearlez at 2:47 PM on June 28, 2006

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