*(Update: problem solved, H and the agents are probably clear)*

I am applying for my next job here, in Germany. I have been in contact with a headhunting company and applying for jobs through them.

The situation is the following:


"H" is the headhunter company. I am in contact with 2 of their agents there, name them Ha and Hb. Ha is the contact person for company A, where I've jad a very good job interview. It had the best atmosphere I ever had in Germany. After that I've feel I have more than 90% chance to be accepted.

Hb is the contact person for company B. They will send me in outsourcing to company C. C is a bad name in the area, and I know the company and I know that it is bad to work there.

In company B, I also had a job interview. They didn't even know my CV, and from their test questions was it clearly visible that they highly underestimate my skills. They also gave me some questions about a technology which doesn't even exist in my CV. Other than those things, the interview seemed to run relatively well, but I estimated my chance to get a job offer below 50%.

At this headhunter company H each agent is responsible only for their own customers, so Ha is responsible for company A and Hb is only responsible for things about company B.

Now, Hb contacted me with results: A has rejected me, but B has accepted. It was communicated to me by the agent Hb, even though it isn't his responsibility.

Agent Hb didn't want to explain me the rejection reason from A, but after I persisted he said that they wanted somebody with team-leading experience. Team-leading wasn't even mentioned in A's original job description, and also not on the job interview.

I suspect, that in the reality, both A and B have accepted me, but the headhunter H wants to optimize his economic results by sending me to B (for further outsourcing), and sending someone else to A. I know that A is a high-level, important customer of H, while B is not so, mainly because B only hires to outsource and A only has direct-hire jobs.

Considering that H could at least find me a job, I think it would be unprofessional to do contact A behind their back. But, I think it is important to at least check to see that A also wanted to employ me.

I am thinking of simply calling A behind the back of Ha, disguising at as a nice "I am really sorry you decided not to hire me for this position. I hope you'll keep me in mind in the future." talk. But in the reality, I would be trying to find out what their real decision was.

Is this a reasonable thing to do? How could I check with A politely, without doing something that would make me probably forever blacklisted by H?

Update: I asked Ha about my rejection from A, and he gave me a more detailed version of what Hb told me. This means that Hb wasn't going behind Ha's back, but it could still mean that H is lying to me and A. However, Ha earlier mentioned to me that the H and A have a longstanding good relationship. It's not likely H would risk that relationship by lying about me.

Despite that, I am thinking about writing to the bosses at A, but this time really about to trying to make a longer contact with them. I will first ask Ha's permission to do that.

  • Applying directly and getting accepted directly is very common in Germany. Headhunters and Outsourcing costs a bunch of money and only huge corporations can afford to have a staff of outsiders.
    – nvoigt
    Jul 19, 2016 at 11:15
  • @nvoigt Well, I've seen some direct employment offers already, but somehow I, my coworkers I was friendly with, and people I know here, somehow didn't find their way to their job on this way. Things are working normally so, that people works somewhere 2 years in outsourcing (externe Mitarbeiter), and then he gets an offer for direct employment. Or not. This 2 years is only because of the fights of the reds (Betriebsrat). Of course if the company/department has financial problems, they are fired in the first line.
    – Gray Sheep
    Jul 19, 2016 at 11:25
  • 1
    General advice: What you are talking about sounds more like Zeitarbeit (an agency for temporary work) than an actual headhunting company. I believe that if you are in a field that required highly trained people (let's say IT or engineering) as opposed to working in a warehouse or delivering parcels, the best course of action is to contact companies directly in general instead of going through an agency. If your resume looks good and your application conform with German expectations, it will work eventually.
    – simbabque
    Jul 19, 2016 at 11:31
  • 4
    Have you spoken to Ha since Hb told you that you had been rejected? I can see Hb lying to you that you've been rejected (so that he gets the commission rather than Ha), I think it's less likely that the agency as a whole are favouring one job over the other.
    – thelem
    Jul 19, 2016 at 11:37
  • 3
    @MorningStar Just take the same approach you planned with A and hide it in a question. Go to Ha and say "Hb said that A rejected me, but didn't have a great explanation as to why. Do you have any other information as to why they might have rejected me?"
    – David K
    Jul 19, 2016 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


So, to answer a different question, I would say that it is more likely that Hb is lying to you than that H is lying to you. I would start by contacting Ha first to verify that you were rejected. If you don't want this to come off as accusatory, hide it in a question.

Hb said that Company A rejected me, but didn't have a good explanation as to why. Do you have any more information from Company A about why they would have rejected me? I thought my interview went very well.

If he also says that you were rejected, then I think it is very likely he is telling the truth. Often at recruiting companies you have your quota per recruiter, and him giving you over to company B doesn't help him in any way.

If you are still suspicious and feel the desire to contact A, then do so, but keep in mind that it may be in breach of your contract with H, and you could be removed from their list. That is a risk you take. And make if you do this, make sure that you are still approaching it as trying to figure out if you can improve, or asking if they would still consider you for future positions.

Never accuse anyone of lying - just tell them you were told you were rejected and let them respond accordingly.

  • Thank you! I have no contract to H, but it doesn't mean that they wouldn't be removed from their list.
    – Gray Sheep
    Jul 19, 2016 at 12:23
  • @MorningStar Note that this answer avoids some of your own suggested actions which are based on assumptions. That is always a bad idea. David's course of action replaces assumptions with facts.
    – user8036
    Jul 19, 2016 at 13:41
  • 1
    Thank you very much! Your answer and comments helped me a lot.
    – Gray Sheep
    Jul 19, 2016 at 19:41

Simple: If you don't feel you can trust someone and you don't need to do business with that someone, don't do business with that someone.

If you contact A directly to ask for the rejection reason, you might lose standing with the headhunter, but that isn't even necessarily the case. Even if you lose standing, they won't sabotage the offer by B, because they still want to get that money from company B.

The only case where you could possibly face negative consequences for contacting A is if you absolutely need H to get a job in the future, other than the job at B.

  • Unfortunately, I am not in a position where I could choose, which job offer I accept. H worked hardily to find a job for me (next to these, I had 2 other offers as well. In one of them, the interview view the customer will happen in 3 hours), other agents hasn't, this makes them important in my eyes.
    – Gray Sheep
    Jul 19, 2016 at 12:25
  • Because of this "outsourcing to a bad name" offer, probably not I am the only applicant trying to avoid B. A is a good job, but only for me: they don't use really useful technologies in the future, but they use techs I love. But other programmers don't have this affinity to As techs, so their offer is good only in my eyes. Next to that they are in a much better city, it was another reason, what made A a dream job for me.
    – Gray Sheep
    Jul 19, 2016 at 12:28
  • @MorningStar which puts you in the "need to do business with that someone" clause, unfortunately. Personally I'd contact A directly. If it turns out they want you (which is unlikely) H will still get their finders fee, if they don't want you, you can still get job B. At worst, H will stop looking for other opportunities past job B - it's up to you if you want to take that risk.
    – Peter
    Jul 19, 2016 at 12:31
  • Another info: one of the reasons of the very good outcome of the interview by A was that they've also seen, that I love their techs. The interview went with their Boss, i.e. who directly decides about the recruiting, and he very clearly signed that he wants me.
    – Gray Sheep
    Jul 19, 2016 at 12:33
  • 1
    You had right. But, what I didn't mention: Ha said to me (before the appearance of this whole problem), that they have a long contact with A. Betraying a longstanding customer is unimaginable in Germany, but saying to an applicant that "you are ok, we want you", and then stepping back is quite common. This cleans H and the agents with high probability. Anyways, I can't enough thank you your answer!
    – Gray Sheep
    Jul 19, 2016 at 19:47

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .