Without being too specific, I needed a data feed from an agency for a project I was working on outside of the workplace on my own time, fully allowed by my employment contract.

All I can disclose about the project is that it requires live data of a meteorological nature, so I reached out to the official agency in charge that can provide the data feed.

The data feed proved to be far too expensive. My project was to be free to use for anyone, so I tried to negotiate a discount. I ended up being put through to someone senior who loved my idea, invited me to his office, and initially we had good back and forward communication about progress every 1-2 weeks, and things seemed to move forward. I even showed projects I had created to prove to them I had the knowledge to build the system.

At that point they even sent me some sample data to work with, so I could build a test version of my project while they looked into my request.

Fast forward 2 months or so, and nothing was happening. However my study into the field had convinced me that I wanted to work for them instead of my current employer, so in my next email to them I hinted gently that if they need someone good with low level programming or embedded systems I'm available.

Since then I heard nothing back. I reached out directly a month after and offered my services in a polite way - by asking to be pointed at their recruitment page if they had any interest in my skills or vacancies (they do not have a recruitment page I can find due to the nature of the agency). I mentioned that I would "take it from there" if they are interested, and not involve my contact at the agency. I have still heard nothing back at all from my contact.

My Questions

  1. What did I do wrong to offend my contact?
  2. Was reaching out directly via my contact (whom I originally was talking with to get a data feed) a bad move?
  3. Have I burnt bridges here?

I really want to try to work at that agency if possible; if not, it would be a shame that I ruined my chances of ever having a data feed for my application instead.

I appreciate any insight.

  • 7
    Curiosity, if the data is expensive, it means business. What is the probably that after you show them your project/ideas, they cut communication with you and they put resources on a project that is a copy of yours? – Sebastien DErrico May 11 '17 at 17:20
  • 3
    You put the word out, they didn't reply, it appears they are not interested. – Donald May 11 '17 at 19:26
  • Sounds like they'd already cut communication 2 months before you asked about working for them... – HorusKol May 11 '17 at 23:05
  • To answer some questions here: I should add the culture - Japan. Silence usually means you offended someone. I doubt they stole my idea - I did show them technical diagrams but due to the nature of the agency they are not really allowed to implement the system I wanted to. And yeah, it seems they cut communication 2 months ago for reasons beyond my knowledge. – mranonymous12399 May 12 '17 at 2:32
  • Or it means the person you're talking to isn't a recruiter and doesn't care about getting you a job. If some random person I briefly talked to months ago hit me up that way, that's the response I'd give them. – Gabe Sechan May 12 '17 at 4:47
  1. Without seeing the actual emails/correspondence, we're not able to address this question in its entirety. But, it does not appear that you have violated any sort of workplace protocol or anything of that nature, by the way you describe events.

  2. Yes and no. Don't assume that your contact owes you anything. You make the assumption that he/she will reach out to their HR or hiring managers and vouch for you from the manner in which you've approached this. Hinting at things or suggesting they could "hire" you is over-reaching at best and at worse, you come across as overbearing. If this is something that you're doing outside of work and they're simply looking into, they have no obligation to help you or consider you for employment.

  3. It does not appear that you have burnt any bridges. However, I would stop pinging them for responses. At this point, you've said your piece and have to leave it at that. You can apply for a position at their company and let your contact know you did, but beyond that, anything else might be met with silence or at the worst, you might get told to stop contacting them about non-work related projects.

@Sebastien DErrico makes a decent point. What do you have documented about your work? Start gathering resources and proof that what you were designing is your IP and potentially prepare yourself that you might have been taken for a ride. While this may not be the case, it's always better to prepare for the worse and hope for the best.

Keep in mind that people get busy and side projects can and will take a back seat if workloads ramp up. Further requests or pings about anything non-work related may endanger your working relationship with this firm, so it might be in your best interest to cease immediately. You've said your piece and inquired about their positions, the ball is in their court. If they don't want to follow-up for whatever reason, that is their decision.

  • Thanks for the useful reply. The emails were always of a friendly tone in nature so I have no reason to believe I was breaching any protocols (I did not ask for any special favours for example). I tried my best when I hinted at a job to put the message across that I was expecting nothing from my contact, but maybe that didn't get through. I'll take your advice and try to directly apply for a position via other means and as painful as it might be (we had a good back and forward going with the emails) I will stop pinging my contact. – mranonymous12399 May 12 '17 at 2:30
  • 3
    I did not ask for any special favours for example... You did. You asked to get their data for less than they usually sell it for. – skymningen May 12 '17 at 11:50

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