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(I have searched for similar questions, but could not find any related to contracting positions. I'm new to the world of contract work and am not sure what the proper procedures are.)

I've been job-hunting recently and this contracting company contacted me out of the blue for a position at a well-known tech company that I'd like to work for. Unfortunately the contracting company has been a bit unprofessional, calling me to discuss roles without setting up times first, and even giving me incorrect details about an interview (I was told it was a simple phone interview, but I was caught off guard when the interviewer requested I go to a website and perform some coding challenges).

After those interviews, the recruiting company asked the hiring company if they would extend an offer, which they did, and they "accepted the offer on my behalf". I was not given any notice between the time that the offer was extended and they accepted it.

Though the position is okay, I'm still interviewing with other places that I think might be a better fit. Normally after an offer is extended I could negotiate with the company and hold off for a few days while considering other options, and this is seen as normal. But as I understand it, rejecting an offer that has already been accepted is a major faux pas. However, in this case I didn't directly accept it, the contracting company did.

My question is, how unprofessional is it to reject the offer at this point, provided I find a better opportunity soon (Dec 3rd at latest)? I don't mind burning bridges with the contracting company, but I'd like to keep my options open with the hiring company.

Some other details:

  • I signed a Right to Represent for this specific position. This basically consisted of me saying in an email that they can represent me, with no other contract attached. The same email also contained a form to fill out with information like hourly rate, citicenship status, etc. I'm not sure how much this covers, and if it includes an obligation to take on the role after it's been accepted on my behalf; As far as I know no paperwork was presented or signed to that effect, but I don't know if this is supposed to be common knowledge.
  • They contracting company has started sending me onboarding emails, requesting that I setup an account on their system and sign some paperwork for background checks. None of the paperwork so far seems to be related to formally accepting the position.
  • I have a final interview scheduled on Dec 3rd for a company I think I would prefer more. I'm suggesting a start date of Dec 16th for the contracting position (for legitimate reasons - overlaps with holidays and vacations, need to give full 2-weeks notice, and move to the area), though there might be some pushback from the hiring company. Is this too late to notify that I am rejecting the offer?

Thanks for reading!

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    Tell the company the truth: "No, I didn't accept the offer yet. I'll need to see the offer/contract in writing first. We'll also need to discuss the dates." It was extremely unprofessional for the recruiter to accept the offer on your behalf. What they did was wrong. The client company needs to know what they did. Tell them directly. And no, there is no need to reject the offer yet. But if they lied about this, it's possible they lied about you resume as well. Make sure that's not the case. – Stephan Branczyk Nov 23 '19 at 17:45
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I would call the hiring company immediately and tell them what the situation is. You haven't accepted the position. You haven't seen the contract. The recruiting company cannot accept a job offer on your behalf. You would prefer to make a decision once other interviews are done, and you would need to see the contract and sign it yourself.

If that is a dealbreaker for them, then it is your decision to make. Can be tough. One offer in your hand, a better offer not in your hand, your decision. You can offer to sign paperwork for background checks to speed things up, but making it clear that this doesn't constitute acceptance of the offer.

  • This is true. If I was someone at the hiring company I would really want to know if my recruiting partners would do this, because it's not just really unethical but also stupid. – Magisch Nov 25 '19 at 13:14
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My question is, how unprofessional is it to reject the offer at this point, provided I find a better opportunity soon (Dec 3rd at latest)? I don't mind burning bridges with the contracting company, but I'd like to keep my options open with the hiring company.

Either reject the offer right now, or passively accept the offer by saying nothing.

Waiting until the last minute will hurt the company that would need you services. It will likely burn bridges with both the contracting company and with the hiring company. Don't be that kind of unprofessional.

If you choose to reject the offer, call the hiring company the next business day, apologize for the confusion, and explain what happened. Most hiring companies wouldn't hold it against you if they understand what actually happened.

Personally, I would never work with a contracting company who was unprofessional, called me to discuss roles without setting up times first, gave me incorrect details about an interview or accepted an offer on my behalf without my explicit permission to do so.

My professional reputation is extremely important to me. I wouldn't allow that kind of company to represent me and ruin my reputation.

I always make it clear to agencies and contracting companies how I expect things to work. If they can't agree with my terms, then I find another company that will.

No matter what you choose, make a decision quickly and make sure everyone knows. Don't delay until Dec 3 or Dec 16. You wouldn't like to be strung along. Hiring companies don't like that either.

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