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I had a talk with the manager of a technical department at a big sized company I've been doing some work with as a consultant. She told me they are looking for technical people and asked if I'd like to work with them at a specific technical position. I said yes and she was very enthusiastic.

This company is particularly structured and full of red tape. Before applying for the position and having an interview with the manager (I basically already had this interview as mentioned above), I had to take a 3 hours role/group play non-technical evaluation session with other 8 candidates who wanted to apply for different non-technical positions.

The result of this evaluation session was negative. Basically, HR says I don't know how to work in a group, make an argument, take a decision and so on. There were no comments; I can only infer this because those were the skills being evaluated, apparently.

At this point, I do not know what to do next. The manager wants me to get on board and I have a strong track record of references that can prove I can do what HR in a 3 hours evaluation deemed me unable to. What would be the correct course of action? Do I apply? I tried to ask HR for more information on their decision but they have been dead silent.

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    Do you REALLY want to work full-time at a company like this? Consulting work has its headaches, to be sure, but one of the "perks" is that you don't have to deal with most of the small minds behind big desks. – Wesley Long Jun 11 at 22:11
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    @WesleyLong indeed this experience has got me thinking a bit... – user105630 Jun 11 at 22:14
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    Excellent point, @Wesley, that's a big part of the reason that I only ever had one permanent position and have been freelance for *cough* decades :-) – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jun 12 at 6:48
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    We don't know the exact details of what happened, but it sounds a lot like you already applied (even if not explicitly) and were rejected. What did the manager say about the result of the evaluation? They're probably in a much better position to tell you about any possible next steps than we are. – Dukeling Jun 12 at 20:07
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    What country are you in? – jpmc26 Jun 13 at 15:13
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Continue to work for this company as a consultant.

Conspire with that friendly manager to enlarge your contribution until it is essentially full time or even more.

Charge three times what you would have made as a permanent employee.

Every time you pass the door to HR shake your head sadly and chuckle to yourself.

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    +1, but given there is no country tag: there are countries (e.g. Belgium) were you have to be very careful working full time as a self-employed consultant/contractor for a single company. Basically it's illegal unless you can proof without doubt you are in charge of your own work (not the manager) and you have no fixed salary or bonus structure or 'reportees' within said company or ... . – KillianDS Jun 12 at 7:19
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    @KillianDS Agree, in most European countries it would be considered a hidden/mascareded employment-relationship when you work full time for just one company and physically being at their office for most of the weekly hours and might lead to trouble with the states social & health insurance.. – iLuvLogix Jun 12 at 8:33
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    Those employment laws are designed to prevent employers from abusing employees by classifying them as independent contractors, meaning they're not subject to holiday pay, minimum wage, or any of the other things that go hand in hand with an actual job. In this case, OP acknowledges that he is in fact a consultant, charges accordingly, and presumably has arrangements in place to meet any tax/insurance requirements. If he were to complain about his situation, then an investigation might find that he is a de facto employee, but if the situation is mutually agreeable, there's no problem. – timbstoke Jun 12 at 9:10
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    @Timbstoke: German law doesn't care if the "contractor" is happy or not. The situation circumvents laws that regulate employment and contract work - both parties can end up in court on the receiving end for having such a "partnership." – JRE Jun 12 at 9:27
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    Not sure what the legal origin for this actually is, but in many large companies in France, you cannot have a contractor work for over 3 years for the same company. So it could just end up in "sorry, the 3 years are up, your contract is terminated". Don't know if the same exists in other countries. – jcaron Jun 12 at 13:08
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At this point I do not know what to do next. The manager wants me to get on board and I have a strong track record of references that can prove I can do what HR in a 3 hours evaluation deemed me unable to. What would be the correct course of action?

Talk to the manager. Explain what you think happened with HR and that you'd still like to work for the company. See what the manager can do about it.

The reality is that the manager may or may not be able to override HR. And she may or may not be willing to do so.

Leave it in the manager's hands and see what happens.

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    This. HR usually has the sole role of "serving" the productive departments, and therefore, if a "productive" manager requests someone to be hired and is certain that person is fitting, they will hire – Hobbamok Jun 12 at 8:54
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    While the highest voted answer fills an emotional need, this is really the only valid answer. – RonJohn Jun 14 at 2:15
  • HR is useless as always – dan-klasson Oct 3 at 10:06
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The answer depends on how the company actually performs hiring -- is HR the gatekeeper with the final say, or does HR give advice, and managers do the actual hiring.

The first thing is that hectoring HR, or walking past and making noises and faces, is just horrible advice. If I were the hiring manager and I saw you doing that, I'd consider it childish and unprofessional, and then I'd figure out how to avoid keeping you around as a consultant.

Right now you have a strong ally with the manager who holds your contract relationship. Work on that relationship. Then take the feedback from HR to heart and see what you can do to either prove you have the skills or fix your weaknesses. What you absolutely don't want to do is embarrass the hiring manager by treating HR poorly, or cranking up your billing rate as a way to force someones hand. Act like a mature professional, overcome what sounds like a bad impression, and you're more likely to be successful in the long run.

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    Any comments you should have about Breveleri's answer should be that: A comment in their answer. I think you can make your point without 50% of your post being disapproval of someone else's. – Erikus Jun 12 at 6:46
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    Avoiding keeping a good consultant (by his manager point of view and opinion), only because he's making some noises and faces to a HR who did not want him, this behaviour would be much more childish and unprofessional. It is the profession of the HR to handle some harder cases of people, not the task of an average consultant and worker. – Ho Zong Jun 12 at 11:07
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    @Erikus Incorrect. Posting a competing answer is often the most advisable response to one that has major problems. This does answer the question. That it also critiques a different and popular answer in no way hurts it. – jpmc26 Jun 13 at 15:15
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    The last line of Breveleri's answer was obviously not meant to be taken literally. – Dawood says reinstate Monica Jun 13 at 20:21
  • "Then take the feedback from HR to heart" OP stated that HR gave no feedback, even upon request. Also, what Dawood said. That was pretty obviously tongue-in-cheek. – reirab Jun 13 at 22:50
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HR people often don't know what qualifies candidates for technical jobs. It is no surprise that HR speculated on loosely related grounds and produced unfavourable judgement -- it does not mean that you can not thrive in the role that you think you are good for.

Ask the manager for help. If manager is on the good terms with HR then (s)he can simply convince HR that you are the right person for the job and that (s)he prefers you to other candidates. It may help to ask your manager to arrange an interview with yourself, the manager and HR person. Be prepared to explain/prove/demonstrate what makes you good for the job.

Once I had to convince HR to trust me with my choice of candidate after I've found the right one who was good for the job but failed to impress HR. I've interviewed enough people to be confident in my choice and I've managed to convince HR to hire the person I wanted for the job. In retrospect I can say that it was the right decision.

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What do you mean "Do I apply?" Isn't that how you got to the 3 hour ordeal?

I have been in your shoes. Several of my jobs I've gotten because I have known someone who gave the hiring manager my resume. The manager put my name through, and I was good.

On another occasion being manager's choice was irrelevant. I did not get the job because it was a well-known market research/survey company. They prided themselves on their research abilities, and they made me take a personality test. The results of the personality test told me I wasn't the "type of candidate" they were looking for. No matter how much I protested, I got nowhere. I took my argument to the head of HR. She wouldn't budge.

HR is the gatekeeper for many companies. If you don't get past their bureaucracy, you won't get in. You can apply, and perhaps it'll work out, but there's a good chance they simply won't let you through, and that's that.

  • No the 3 hours thing is some kind of standard process you have to go through before applying. You can still apply. They have not been very clear on what happens in the case I find myself in. – user105630 Jun 11 at 22:14
  • A company I previously worked for was quite large and over the years local management had less and less of a say in hiring. All applications went through the corporate offices. Eventually some applications would be filtered to the local management for them to do interviews. From that point on, local management could say Yes/No to those applications, but had no say over the applications that never filtered down. Also, if the local leadership knew the applicant then they would likely recuse themself from the interview for that applicant. – Michael Richardson Jun 12 at 20:06
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    @throwaway_account, Of course, you apply. Don't be so tentative. If they want to reject you, let them reject you officially. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 13 at 4:16
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IF you still want the job, then yes you still apply. Tell your manager you failed their "test" and ask her to request that you be considered regardless. Your manager either has enough pull to override HR's decision or not. There's only one way to find out for sure.

If she doesn't have the pull, then you do what @A.I.Breveleri says and continue working as a consultant.

  • If a manager can't override HR, God help the company. – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Jun 13 at 3:31
  • @BobJarvis: if HR finds that someone is legally barred from working for the company, I hope they're not overruled. The petty objections mentioned here are entirely different; HR shouldn't even have bothered to check if an existing, vetted consultant would match the company culture. – MSalters Jun 13 at 12:59
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It's not your problem to worry, it's your manager problem.

If I was you, I would tell the manager honestly what happened and what HR said, without asking him to intervene.

After this point, just keep working as contractor, and don't hope for anything. If you are to get this full-time job, you will hear from manager, otherwise not. Manager can discuss with HR internally about you, but that's his concern, not yours.

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