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I’m currently in the phone interview stage for large tech company ABC. Already spoke with the hiring manager and some potential team members, so I’m currently waiting to hear if I’m onto the next steps. I had the help of getting a referral from a coworker at a former employer who is now working as a full time ABC employee. She forwarded my resume to the hiring manager directly, and has a good working relationship with him, so hoping that helps me. The hiring manager liked my profile and had a recruiter get in touch with me.

The recruiter however, is an onsite vendor/recruiting agency XYZ sitting at ABC HQ and is seeking to hire me as a XYZ contractor for 6 months (not as an official ABC employee). After the 6 months there is a high chance to extend and also convert as a FTE/Perm ABC employee, but of course there aren’t any guarantees. I must note though, the length of the contract wasn’t even mentioned to me at all until I asked about it during my phone screen with the recruiter. The recruiter surprisingly wasn’t even sure how long my contract would be and “would confirm later.” She also said depending on how the interviews go I could be considered for “different roles and buckets” since it’s a new and growing team. The job description that the recruiter gave me also did not outline any details of the contract-—which is weird since in my previous experience with similar contract job interviews, this is all usually mentioned up front.

Just last week I noticed on ABC’s official job website that the exact role I’m interviewing for is offered as a FTE/perm position with the company. This perm role was not discussed to me by the XYZ recruiter and I’m not sure it’s in her best interest to. The job description and title matches 100% completely.

I didin’t ask anyone else during the phone interviews about this role since I didn’t want it to affect my current chances of getting any job at all. What I know about the contract role based on my call with the hiring manager, is that they’ve been looking to fill this role for a few months now and they really need someone who can jump right in "as a contractor" to get things going.

If I’m on to the next step which is probably an in person interview, should I express my interest in the permanent role? If so, is it more appropriate to ask the XYZ recruiter or the ABC hiring manager about it? Should I wait until I get an offer for the contract role and negotiate the full time position the with XYZ recruiter?

Any tips on navigating this would be great. It’s really in my best interest to try to be a ABC employee regardless (their benefits are amazing), and the chance to convert seems likely since it’s a newer/smaller team. But I’ve also read dreaded stories about being a tech contractor treated like a lower class citizen.

I'd ask my referral about this but she doesn't work on the exact team, so not sure she can be of any help.

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This may be a time where you want to just pick up the phone and call the company's HR department.

There could be a few different situations going on here, and we can't really know the answer for sure. They may actually be hiring two people (one FTE and one contractor), or they may only have one seat to fill, and they're using the contract agency as a way to extend their reach, because they've had trouble filling the direct role themselves.

The good news is, they're still advertising the direct role, which probably means there isn't an exclusive arrangement with them and XYZ to find the resource. If you want to work directly for ABC, and there's an opening listed direct with ABC, then it makes sense to figure this out now and not after you're employed by XYZ.

  • Calling HR makes sense. It would not surprise me if the full-time role you saw advertised on the Web site worked the same way; i.e., if you applied for that role, they'd refer you out to the contracting agency, because all positions are handled as contract-to-hire. A lot of companies use that technique for a try-before-you-buy approach to employees. It often turns out to work out in your favor as well; e.g., if you dislike working there, you can walk away without feeling guilty when the contract ends. And most contracting companies offer benefits if you'll accept a lower hourly rate. – Bill Horvath Mar 12 at 6:38
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If I’m on to the next step which is probably an in person interview, should I express my interest in the permanent role?

Yes, by all means bring up the fact that you saw the permanent role listed and express your preference for this position. I would bring this up to the ABC hiring manager as based on what you have written about XYZ, they either have not completely ironed out the details of the role or they are purposely withholding information from you.

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Depends on how hungry you are. When I was made an offer from Big Blue, a position was available immediately on contract. HR told me that they would need to apply to the regional office for hiring against a regular post. I told him that getting the approval was up to him and he may choose to do it if he wanted me to join and that I am content in my current job. So, he did and I did and the rest is too boring for you to read.

Comes back to you: Do you want to jump at the current offer? Or, can you wait?

As the opening is listed on the company's site, there's nothing illegal or unethical in your applying for it even with the contract offer in front of you.

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