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A little while ago I was looking for a job and company X offered me one of the most competitive offers I had received. I ultimately took a different position, but due to some unrelated issues I'm leaving the company I accepted the position with sooner then I had intended. I know it's less then ideal to be leaving a company after only 7-8 months but my resume shows a history of more reliable lengths of time working for companies so I don't think one early 'jump' should look too terrible.

Anyways a third party recruiter contacted me about a position with company X. I told her I was already considering contacting the company directly since they had offered me a competitive rate not too long ago and she said something about how I would have to go through her to speak with them anyways. She then came back with an offer that was notable less competitive then the offer I had received previously despite my having more years of experience now. When I turned it down she didn't appear to even try relaying that to the company or seeing if she could haggle a more competitive price. I'm kind of feeling she gave me their low ball intro offer and isn't bothering to haggle up to a more reasonable middle ground.

I'm suspicious of her claim that I 'have to go through her' to speak with a company, I presume she just saying that since she wants to earn her commission. She has also been giving me a mildly condescending attitude since I told her I, knowingly, was requesting a salary at the upper bound of my pay grade. Yes I know not everyone will hit that salary and am fine with that, but rather then accepting I've knowingly set a high standard she proceeded to act as if I was simple incapable of understanding what a valid salary was and continued to insist that the salary offer I had received was great and imply I was an idiot for turning it down even after I stated clearly I was not interested at that level, even going so far as to contact me a month later and imply I should come back and accept the salary offer from before since I hadn't accepted a new position yet, ignoring the fact I had clearly told her I planed to take a long time feeling out my options.

So I have two questions. First, was she being at all honest in her claim that I had to go 'through her' to speak with company X? I suspect not, but is there any grain of truth in that claim?

Second, How would I, and should I bother, to contact company X directly? I can apply to positions on their website, but they have very few listed and it didn't seem any of them required anywhere close to my years of experience. It seemed like they must have more openings then the few listed on the website, including some requiring more experience. It feels pointless to put in an online application for a position I'm drastically over qualified for if I'm going to demand a high salary. I'm not sure if I should be bothering to follow up with company X directly at all?

Update:

I ended up sending an e-mail to their general contact e-mail address asking they forward it to whoever handles recruiting and explaining my situation. I told them I wasn't interested at the salary offered but did believe there was a point we could meet at given their past offer; but that at this point I wouldn't want to work through the recruiter as an intermediary any more due to my dissatisfaction with her. They replied back saying that their deal with third party recruiters meant they generally weren't suppose to talk directly to someone originally submitted by a third party, but they would contact the agency the recruiter worked for and get back to me. A few days later I got a request to schedule a meeting with their recruiter.

I presume the third party recruiters heard that there was no chance that I was going to accept a position through them at this point and decided they had nothing to lose by waiving the rule on me talking directly with X at this point and so waived it to keep from upsetting X by driving away a potential hire. I feel a tiny bit bad that I had to name the original recruiter and I suspect this will all result in a rather negative mark on her record, but I still think it was the best option for me. Hopefully something will come out of my meeting with X's recruiters directly.

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    What's the harm in trying?
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 16:33
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    If you didn't specifically give her/her company permission to submit your resume to this company, or to represent you to any company ... then you are free to do anything you want, especially in this case where you already had a relationship with the company, and an earlier offer from them. Good luck with your hunt! Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 17:00

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You've correctly assessed her motives - she will in some way receive compensation from the company for recruiting you, so she has every reason to keep you talking to her and not go directly to the company. That said, usually third-party recruiters are paid proportionally to your starting salary, so it's in their interest to help you negotiate up.

Given what you've said, it's possible that the recruiter or her company actually has an inverse agreement, where they are paid more for getting recruits to accept lower salaries. Unusual, but not unheard of and make some financial sense, except that it may lead to lower quality recruits. Because of that, and because many of the things she had said seem shady or scummy (insisting you MUST go through her, and not talk directly to the company, repeatedly trying to get you to accept a low salary, not being open to negotiating the salary), I would just talk to the company directly. Yes, recruiters can help you get in the door, but you've already proven that you can interview successfully with this company. They will likely recognize your name and be very open to talking to you again.

For how to contact to the company - if you still have the email address or LinkedIn of your contact from last time, it would be appropriate to reach out to them again. Otherwise, look for a recruiting email address on their site, and as a last resort, submit a resume to one of the opening that matches as closely as possible to the position you want. If they contact you from that, then from there you can better explain the situation. I would generally avoid talking about the recruiter though - just politely let them know that you are in the market again and their company stood out to you so you would like interview with them again if they are interested.

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a third party recruiter contacted me about a position with company X. I told her I was already considering contacting the company directly since they had offered me a competitive rate not too long ago and she said something about how I would have to go through her to speak with them anyways.

Did she ask and did you give her permission to be submitted to company X? Unless you specifically gave permission she is not representing you. You can contact the company on your own to see if you can make a deal.

Its not that she lowballed you exactly. She is trying to keep the majority of the rate for herself and company. Say X is willing to pay $100/hr for this position. If she can get you to accept $70 rather than $80 she/the company gets to keep an extra $10 per hour you work.

Some of this depends on company X as well. If they were informed by this recruiter that she is representing you, they might avoid hiring you to avoid litigation. Depending on how they feel about litigation they may avoid you even if you point out that you did not give her permission to represent you.

Also it is highly unlikely that she is in a position to offer you a job without a client interview. She just quoted you a rate. This person sounds like she has an integrity problem. I wouldn't want to work with her in the future.

This answer assumes you are in the US.

For me, when dealing with recruiters, I do not send an up-to-date resume until I know the details of the position. Rate, responsibilities, and location. If I am not interested, then I state they are not permitted to submit me and will not provide a resume.

If it sounds good I make sure they understand they are only permitted to submit me for that singular position and only then give them a resume.

For the second question do you have the contact info of anyone you interviewed with? Can you find the person on linked in or some other way? If so I would email them directly. It sounds like the position you interviewed for is no longer open.

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    ^This ... Especially the first paragraph re: granting her/her company permission to represent you to this particular client. OP should be wary of recruiters who pre-submit a resume or batches of resumes to their clients ... I had this happen some years ago, and it caused a considerable amount of grief for me and the recruiting company I had actually given permission to submit my resume. Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 16:57
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It is generally considered impolite to bypass a recruiter for the specific job they've just told you about. Essentially you're removing their chance to be rewarded for the work they did in finding a suitable candidate (you) for the job.

Then again, they can prevent that by simply not telling you who the potential employer is. If you find the job on your own, that's their loss.

Having said that: I have never had a cold-calling recruiter show any evidence that they had done any significant amount of work to match candidates and jobs.worst example was the one who offered someone with two years of experience a CTO position... and then dug themselves into a deeper hole by claiming one of my friends recommended me but being unwilling or unable to say who. (Probably unable; I think the whole pitch was a lie to get me into their database so they could try to get a commission in the future.)

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