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Background: Recently I have had a job interview for a position at my company. I work at the company as a contractor currently and applied for a full time position. Lots of coworkers along with myself thought I would get the full time job. A month ago, the company asked for my resume. They took my resume and made a job opening to match my qualifications on my resume. If you hold the resume and the job description next to each other they are identical. A month after, they came back and told me they hired someone else for the job and now I have to train them. I have two weeks left until my position as a contractor is terminated. They took the rug right out from under my feet.

Problem: My company has to post job openings internally for two weeks for anyone that works here can have a chance to apply. Nobody has the qualifications internally to apply. After the two weeks, the company has to post the job externally, which they failed to do. They have hired someone that is the relative of someone who currently works here, but the realitive (the person that got hired) could not apply internally because they currently do not work here.

Question: Am I in the right to file a HR complaint about my situation? Is it worth filing a complaint? I would like to be as professional as possible. What would be a best case scenario? Worst Case?

Edit: They said they hired the other guy because he had more experience. One of the job requirements was Jquery to which the successful candidate replied, "what is that?" Also, the degree requirements were for a BA in Computer Science and he has a BA in Business Information Systems. I realize they both deal with computers, but with different areas of expertise.

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What are you trying to get out of this? Extended contract? Permanent job? Something else? –  Oded Jan 7 '13 at 15:23
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I say go ahead and do it. Best case, something good will happen. Worse case, you will learn an inevitable and important lesson: companies don't really care about employees. –  DA. Jan 7 '13 at 15:43
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I expect the new employee will crash and burn and they will be calling you to see if you will come clean up the mess. Ask for a 50% rate increase. –  kevin cline Jan 7 '13 at 16:34
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@crh225, Please save yourself the trouble of finding out "the hard way" that HR isn't there to help you. –  Angelo Jan 7 '13 at 17:04
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Please take discussions to chat –  NickC Jan 7 '13 at 17:17

6 Answers 6

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Based on the comment thread - at least you are being realistic. When you end up in an unfortunate situation like this, my experience has been that the mess will not end with you working happily in the company. So - from a productivity standpoint, the first thing I'd do is start looking for a new job.

Do train the replacement the way you yourself would want to be trained - for all you know, the new guy had no part in the politics being played around him, and doing a bad job is damaging only to your reputation.

For the real question - what should you do in terms of raising the issue?

It's hard to know what all is going on in your company, but it sounds like, from your perspective - you've been wronged. I don't see a problem raising it if you can be professional, clear, and honest. Any time you see a situation that looks to violate policy or to be otherwise unethical or illegal - it should be fine in a healthy company, to raise the issue. Unless your company is particularly vindictive, and your industry is particularly tightly linked, you should be able to raise an issue professionally without damaging your career.

Things to keep in mind...

Who to Complain To:

Chances are good you can complain to:

  • the HR person responsible for your interview process
  • someone in their hierarchy
  • (in a big company) a dispute resolution service

Usually the best approach is either to start small with direct contact to your HR contact with an informal communication - in person, on the phone or email. If you have serious concerns about retribution, a third party dispute resolution service may be available in a big company specifically to allay those concerns, and you have the option to make use of it at any time in most cases.

Generally, don't escalate up the supervisory chain unless you aren't getting timely or satisfying feedback from the person you're working with. It is totally OK to say "I'm sorry, but I can't accept that answer, I'm taking it to your supervisor". The thing NOT to do is to blast the whole chain all at once, with every medium of communication at your disposal - try to use a process where you escalate with some rationality.

When you have that first conversation, talk about your intent to lodge a complaint, but also ask if there were reasons why you weren't hired - it would be good to know, before things get ugly - why they didn't hire you. If you see those reasons as good reasons, you may decide to give up on the complaint.

How to Contact

My first approach would be a phone call or face to face meetup. If they are hard to find - book a meeting. Communicating in writing is tricky, as your nuances can be mistaken, and with HR especially - written communication gets tracked and saved.

If you can't get a meeting or they don't take you seriously - do follow up with email, restating your concerns - and save copies of anything you write.

In any case - keep your communication clean - free of insults, clearly stating the facts, and as emotion free as possible. Be polite but persistent.

Things to communicate:

A timeline is always helpful. You've clearly had a series of events leading up to this point - being clear about the sequence of events, and who did what is really helpful. Write it down for yourself so you are clear on it and research any supporting information you can - emails, phone logs, etc. Saying "they posted my resume, verbatim, as the job opening!" is less cogent than -

  • We talked on X day, I was given to understand that they wanted to permanently place me, so I agreed to hand in my resume.
  • On Y day, I sent this email with my resume (copy of email, copy of resume)
  • On Y+n days, a job req was posted, with a verbatim translation of my resume (copy of posting).
  • After m days, I was told someone else was hired - in conflict with these policies about hiring family members and waiting 2 weeks before allowing external hires.

I'd also be in the know about any details in your contract that may have impeded them hiring you. You want to know as much as you can about why they may not have wanted to hire you and if there are prohibitive fees to buying you from a contact agency, that's something to find out yourself.

Be clear with yourself

Beyond lodging a compliant, how much time do you want to spend on this? Everything you do to raise the issue will take time. If you wanted to go as far as a lawsuit, you'd need to spend money and time on a lawyer... you could also spend near endless time raising yourself up through the complaint structure of the company looking for a resolution.

As you go, figure out where your stopping point is, and where you've spent too much time. Regardless of how this pans out, it's likely that you'll want to work somewhere else in two weeks, so make sure that you first take care of yourself and your own employment needs.

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You are not an employee of the company so you are not in a position to dispute the decision of the company. Going to HR, if they will even meet with you, is not going to result in anything positive for you. I worked with a company with similar policies and they would open then immediately close the position externally when they had preselected a candidate. There is nothing obviously illegal about what has happened here so even if you complain you are not going to come out on top. You might be able to scuttle the selected candidates opportunity, but in doing so you are going to make an enemy of someone in the decision making process, which means that they are going to find a reason no to select you either.

Turn this into a positive. Be upbeat and do your best for your current manager. Ask them to provide you with a letter of reference. While this seems like a tough time for you it could be a step that launches your career to new heights if you make the most of it. The fact that my former managers are willing to provide a good reference for me has helped my career more than if I had simply stayed with my first good company that I worked with. Take the opportunity you have and make the most of it. Go out with a smile and looking to the future and good things will follow. Make a mess on your way out the door and no one will care how great you were while you were there.

The most important thing for you to realize is that this company has no obligation to you beyond what they have committed to in writing. Currently that is your current contract that is ending in two weeks. It is quite possible that your manager is no happier about the selection than you are but he would be unable to express this to you. But now you need to look at what is the best course of action for you. I see no route that does not include finishing out your contract professionally and leaving with dignity that ends up positive for you in the short term. Leave with them wanting you back and grow your career else where. There have been a few times where I left jobs I really liked and did not want to leave but every time I have moved forward in my career and ultimately it led to growth professionally that would not have been available had I been able to stay where I was.

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It is quite possible that your manager is no happier about the selection than you are but he would be unable to express this to you. +1 –  enderland Jan 7 '13 at 17:31

If I were in your shoes, I would likely schedule a meeting with the hiring manager and say something like - "I'm not going to lie, I thought that I was in a good position to fill the full-time position offered. Considering that someone else has been given the opportunity to fill the position, is there any advice you can give me so that I can improve on the items where I fell short for this opportunity?"

Approaching this as a complaint about the hiring process as though you were entitled to the position is going to get you nowhere and will potentially burn bridges that could be useful in the future. You need to approach this as being disappointed that you weren't offered the opportunity and that you are mature enough to seek improvement. There's obviously no guarantee that anything will happen because of this, but, if you learn something about yourself or how you are perceived, then at least you get a little value out of the experience.

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Based on my experiences like this in the past, there is no way you can turn this around to become a full time employee. You have less than 2 weeks to find a new job. I expect you'll be out interviewing at least some of that time. Your personal belongings should have been removed from the premises the day they let you know you're going.

Many body shops include hefty fees in their contracts with companies, such that if they hired you as an FTE within 6 or 9 months, they owe the bodyshop tens of thousands of dollars.

As for the new guy, I'd be professional and help train them. It is not going to be possible to explain everything in the time frame, but don't sabotage them. IT is not a small enough industry that a bad reputation will go unnoticed.

HR exists to protect the company - not the employee. I strongly recommend reading the book Corporate Confidential as that will explain a lot of things that get employees in trouble.

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+1 I will read that link soon. I am not sure why I need to remove my personal belongings, but since you posted this, you must have a reason to. I defiantly do not want my monitors and chair to be missing. –  crh225 Jan 9 '13 at 3:11

Did the internal posting note that this was for current employees only? If not, then that is where you should have applied as well as the other person. You didn't though they did and thus I'd likely think you'd be seen as the poor loser here. The company may have been trying to limit applicants and thus the current employees could pass along the news of the position and forward in any resumes they wanted. At least this is the possibility I see.

I'd be careful about going to HR here. There is the question of what right was broken here, the promise of you being hired full-time? There is definitely the possibility that you could be seen as having ulterior motives here and thus it may backfire if you are seen as the person with sour grapes wanting revenge.

Best case scenario: You'd get the job and the person that was to be hired gets canned. Alternatively, there is some large settlement you get for not getting the job you were supposed to get.

Worst case scenario: You get blacklisted for being the person that ruined a family by this allegation that went nowhere. This is a rather extreme result though the idea here is that the family of the person that got hired would come after you in terms of ruining your reputation and causing major trouble for you.

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Unless you work for the government or an organization that has agreements in place with unions or similar, a company is free to deviate from its stated policies as much as they want so long as they don't violate law.

EDIT: Wow, this is a tough stackexchange site!

Companies can deviate from their policies all the time. They should, in fact, if business needs dictate the deviation. The OP can certainly complain but what is his upside? None. However, he has a ton of downside. He can be easily interpreted as a whiner, as unprofessional. If HR were to pursue, the response would be the deviation was needed because of this and that. HR would then document such a deviation and close the case. No upside.

So to answer the question, do not complain. Stay positive, continue to learn and improve yourself, then go after the next opportunity. If you feel you have a glass ceiling here, go find a new job.

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This isn't really an answer –  enderland Jan 7 '13 at 16:02
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Which of these - Am I in the right to file a HR complaint about my situation? Is it worth filing a complaint? I would like to be as professional as possible. What would be a best case scenario? Worst Case? does this answer? –  enderland Jan 7 '13 at 16:04
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@DavidEspina see my comments chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/7559391#7559391 –  enderland Jan 7 '13 at 16:14

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