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The situation: I have been looking for a new job and have realized I'm going to need to re-locate, as there aren't many jobs in the small town in which I live. A recruiter contacted me, looking to fill a position with a company in another city that I would not mind living in. That city is far enough away that I'd need a travel day to get to the interview and overnight accomodations. The recruiter says there is no travel budget for interviewees, so I'd have to pay my own way to get to the interview. Fortunately, I can drive to the city and I have friends there who are willing to provide me a place to stay, so an interview was set up.

A couple days before I was supposed to travel for the interview the recruiter called me to say it had been canceled, as the employer (thought they) hired another candidate on the spot during an earlier interview. However, that candidate changed their mind and now the company wants to re-schedule an interview with me.

Unfortunately, the recruiter has told me some things about the job that he says are non-negotiable and which I find unacceptable (e.g. the start date is sooner than I can accept; also, there would be no time off for several months, even though I have a once in a lifetime family event to attend in my hometown in that period). I've made it clear that these terms are not acceptable, but he says the company will not modify them. Nevertheless, he's telling me the company is desperate to fill the job and he is pushing me to interview - even though I would have to take (unpaid) time off from my current job and travel at my own expense.

It seems to me it would be good to talk to the company directly to explain my situation and see if these issues are truly non-negotiable. However, the recruiter is telling me that would be inappropriate. I do have the name of the employer, so I could look up their contact information and try to explain my situation and discuss things with the hiring manager.

The recruiter has made it clear that he won't work with me in the future if I don't interview with this company. Not having contacts in this city, I'm reluctant to burn bridges, but I feel I'm between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Would it truly be inappropriate for me to bypass the recruiter and contact the hiring company? (Yes, I suppose I could be burning the bridge with the recruiter that way also.) Are there other options I'm not thinking of?

Note: Yes, I'm aware there are other questions about bypassing recruiters, but those questions don't address a situation such as this.

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    It's possible, even likely, that the recruiter is under pressure to deliver a certain number of candidates or interviews. That would incentivize this weird behavior of pressuring you to interview despite the show stoppers. – Thomas Cox Sep 21 '15 at 22:23
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    Never forget, recruiters need you more than you need them. When they behave in an unprofessional manner (and throwing a temper tantrum and saying they won't work with you if you don't go to a poorly-suited interview is about as unprofessional as it gets), cut them off. Immediately. Believe it or not there are actually some professional and competent recruiters in that cesspool of an industry. – Carson63000 Sep 22 '15 at 1:28
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    Bad recruiter aside - the fact that your first interview was cancelled because "they hired someone on the spot" and then, seemingly at a whim, want you back again should be a red flag – HorusKol Sep 22 '15 at 2:18
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    This actually seems to be a duplicate of "Under what circumstances should you try to bypass a 3rd-party recruiter's rejection?". @OP: As you know this site doesn't do personal advice, Q&A featured here is expected to provide advice that will be useful to others in a similar situation. I'm voting to close this as a duplicate unless you can give arguments why your situation differs enough for advice to those questions to not apply here. – Lilienthal Sep 22 '15 at 11:28
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I'd just tell the recruiter you're no longer interested in working with him, and you aren't interested in that position.

I think it's pretty likely those points really are non negotiable. It's obvious that the company really is pushing to get help immediately. Those types usually really do want someone immediately, to rush in and get it done. Also, even if it weren't so and they are actually more flexible, that's a pretty huge investment they're pushing you to make on something that's pretty far from sure.

Meanwhile, on the other side of things, unless your employment situation is extremely dire, why on earth would you want to continue to work with a recruiter who threatened you? At the very least, if he knew how to do his job, he'd be interested in not completely burning bridges with you so he could have you apply to other positions. He's just wasting time and money by trying to send his clients candidates that simply don't fit.

And, yes, it is very frowned on to go around the recruiter to talk to the company, as that puts the recruiter at risk of being cut out of the loop and his pay, and puts you at risk of earning bad reputation with the company and the recruiter. Possibly even more so than refusing to interview, especially since the recruiter already told you to not do that.

Thus, I think your best option is to wash your hands of the recruiter and the job and look elsewhere.

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The recruiter has made it clear that he won't work with me in the future if I don't interview with this company.

This is inappropriate. If a recruiter has to force you into anything, I'd be hesitant. Especially when he isn't willing to give you some sort of accommodation for your efforts.

Think about the situation he is putting you in. You have to take a hit from your paycheck for the days off. You have to pay for travel / hotel. For an interview that might not lead to a job.

You should at the very least be able to demand that he asks the company on your behalf if they are flexible with a few days time off for a well qualified and interested candidate.

If he still refuses tell him your intention to go above him and explain the volatile situation he has put you in.

If he still refuses, follow through and go above him. You have nothing to lose at that point.

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I think you can contact the employer outside of the recruiter, but bear this in mind: the recruiter is paid by placing you, and he won't be throwing these blocks in your way unless they are non-negotiable. He is still trying to get you to interview despite them so he's trying to get you interested enough you see past them.

Having said that, the points are contractual rather than financial, so I don't think you'll cause issues by talking directly, in fact you may improve the situation for the recruiter. If it involved money, the recruiter may feel they were losing out (as they have an interest in salary for their percentage etc), but I think this is acceptable as a direct topic.

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Unfortunately, you may not have a choice. If the recruiter submitted you to the company, then he essentially "owns" your rights at this company. If you are hired, the company is contractually obligated to compensate the recruiter, because he "found" you. So you could go around him, but this will almost certainly exclude you from any position with the company, because they won't want the complications that will result.

If you wanted to "fire" the recruiter and deal with the company directly, there may be a waiting period that has to expire before your rights with the recruiter lapse. It could be six months or a year. Is the job still going to be around then?

If you want this job, you don't have much choice but to deal with this guy. I would not get too caught up in what he tells you about the non-negotiable stuff. He is not the one hiring you, and he doesn't get to make those decisions. I would clearly instruct him to present your issues with start date and so forth. If the company chooses to hire you, mention your issues directly with the hiring manager. If the manager asks why you didn't bring them up earlier, explain that you had been very clear with the recruiter about your requirements, and you are surprised that he didn't pass them along.

If you do decide to look elsewhere, I would formally notify the recruiter that you no longer want to work with him just to avoid any future problems.

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    I'm not sure if the OP was necessarily talking about doing a total end-run around the recruiter and attempting to apply to the company directly. It sounded more like he was proposing to contact the company directly to discuss the issues before interviewing, whilst still represented by the recruiter. – Carson63000 Sep 22 '15 at 1:30
  • @Carson63000 is correct. I just want to know if it is okay to contact the employer directly to ask questions - I'd still expect the recruiter to get his cut for connecting me to the employer. That said, he used connections to find and contact me, not the other way around. – GreenMatt Sep 22 '15 at 4:36
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Yes the recruiter's behavior is completely unacceptable, and everything looks unprofessional... But I believe you have a chance here: Why not go there and discuss the terms yourself?

The boss may set these terms strictly with the recruiter first, but you haven't met him yet. And he already changed his mind about seeing you once. And you are not asking for quadruple salary anyway, only for a leave for a once in a lifetime event. Maybe you and him will get along with each other and he will give you what you want in the end? It doesn't sound like something cannot be talked out of.

The recruiter and HR are people you will be dealing with once. If you believe the job worth it, ignore all threats, etc. and go to the interview.

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