bypassing the employment agency

A reader writes:

An employment agency listed a job on a generic website two months ago. At that time, they did not list what company the job was with. I sent my resume to the agency, left messages, and never heard from them. This is my dream job so I was very disappointed.

Today the employment agency re-listed the job and included the name of the company this time. I sent my materials directly to the company this time. How will this be viewed by the company ? I figure if they hire me without an employment agency involved they would save money. Also, I had no contact with the employment agency so I didn’t breach any ethics there. (P.S. I am qualified for the job for sure.) What do you think?

The employer either won’t care or will be annoyed that you didn’t follow the instructions. If they just hired the agency to expand their pool of candidates for them, they won’t care. If they hired the agency to handle the initial screening for them, they’ll just forward your materials to them and may or may not be annoyed that you didn’t follow directions.

On the other hand, if you get hired for this job, you’ve screwed the employment agency out of a fee that they should have had … which is why most agencies don’t include the name of the company in their ads.

{ 11 comments… read them below }

  1. Aaron*

    "…[I]f you get hired for this job, you've screwed the employment agency out of a fee that they should have had…"

    This is an unfair assessment of the situation. If the prospective employee gets the job, it will have been without assistance from the employment agency and so the employment agency deserves no credit. When she submitted her information for the job, the employment agency had every prerogative to recommend her for employment (assuming she is, as she writes, "qualified for the job for sure"). It is unfair to suggest the employment agency is some sort of victim by not receiving it's fee – the prospective employee did everything correctly and should not feel badly about depriving the agency of the fee.

  2. Charles*

    I'll second Aaron's assessment here.

    If the employment agency has done nothing to help this person land the job; then the employment agency does NOT deserve credit or payment of any kind.

  3. Anonymous*

    I'll third it. Frankly, the agency screwed itself out of the fee by not following up with the candidate in the first place (if she truly was "qualified for the job for sure") or publishing the name of the company in the second ad. Those were business choices the agency made, and they have to live with the consequences.

    Besides, in the second scenario where the agency would handle the initial screening anyway, wouldn't they still receive some sort of fee no matter how the candidate was sourced?

  4. Ask a Manager*

    I don't necessarily agree. If the agency had 20 excellent candidates the first time, they're not going to send all of them to interview with the employer; they're going to pick and choose based on their understanding of what the employer wants. That's why a candidate can get hired the second time around even if rejected the first; there's a surplus of great candidates sometimes.

  5. Anonymous*

    A lot of times you can guess the company just by what's in the job description. Most of these firms simply copy/paste the description verbatim from the company's web site.

    If you can bypass the agency, then good for you. You'll be cheaper for the company, as they won't have to pay a fee. Besides, they could always claim that you were an employee referral or something.

  6. perrik*

    Clients hire agencies like ours to handle the overly-optimistic applicants (attention: "good with people" is not the same as "licensed clinical social worker with 3+ years experience") plus sourcing, screens, interviews, verifications, and everything else that goes into digging through 30 applicants to find a couple who actually meet the client's requirements. We earn our fees!

    But any agency who publishes the client's name in an ad deserves to lose out on the fee. What a daft thing to do. Even if the client doesn't require confidentiality, why would an agency cheat themselves by making it so easy to just apply directly? And I'm always baffled when I run a search on and find multiple agencies listing the same job with the exact same description/requirements text – plus the listing from the client's website, again with the same text. Oops, "confidential client" no longer so confidential.

    "Besides, in the second scenario where the agency would handle the initial screening anyway, wouldn't they still receive some sort of fee no matter how the candidate was sourced?"

    Not necessarily. We post our positions on one of the major job boards. When a qualified candidate applies, one of our recruiters will make phone contact for a quick screen to determine the candidate's skill set and how it matches to the position. If an applicant is still in the running, we email a link to our online application (on our own site). The online app includes a confidentiality agreement. We do not own a candidate until he/she has completed our application (thus agreeing to the confidentiality), after which we can speak freely about the client and position.

    If the applicant had applied for the same position through the client's website or through another agency, and did so before we officially owned the candidate, we get nothing. We recently had a great candidate who, after being told all about the client and position, didn't bother to mention that she had already applied for it through the client's site two days earlier; we didn't learn this until we had proudly submitted this candidate to the client – who hired her but didn't owe us a fee because they owned her candidacy. (the recruiters now ask point-blank during the interviews!)

    The reader applied to the agency. The agency never made any contact. The agency doesn't own the reader, and s/he is free to apply for the same job via any other available route. It's not the fault of the reader that the agency is dim enough to include the client's information in a later ad!

  7. Nora*

    I agree with most of what's been said. And honestly, the agency didn't even respond to any of her communication the first time around. It's not like they have her best interests at heart, so why does she owe them?

  8. Albert*

    Just because a company uses an employment agency, doesn’t mean they can’t use other means to hire job applicants. Employment agencies are ultimately useless. The only people they serve are themselves, not the employers and certainly not the job applicants. The world would be a better place without them. They’re just parasitic middlemen who get in everybody else’s way.

  9. Anonymous*

    95% of the agencies do not even have the marginal competency to understand what their client requirements are (at least not in engineering). Due to that (and/or their additional lack of business-mindedness), they regularly copy-paste the text from the actual employer, which in turn greatly improves your chances to find the employer yourself. You also have perfectly valid grounds to ask the recruitment agency for information on the sector, location (to a settlement level of accuracy), and the projects you would be working on. With this, you have further improved your chances. There are further simple tricks that work smoothly, but I won’t give ideas to agency yuppies here, if they can’t do business, there are plenty of jobs around, including doing my gardening.

    Furthermore, due to the very same lack of competency, why would a candidate therefore trust employment agencies, to any extent, to handle their candidacy at its value and potential? A candidate is merely a free product to be harvested and sold, not a human being, not even a professional. Don’t be so ridiculously naive.

    I have just been contacted by a “senior consultant” with a vacancy at a major engineering corporation I wasn’t aware of, I agreed to his consultancy. I have found the company and the vacancy within 5 minutes of his call, and uploaded my profile to the corporate e-recruitment website, made it searchable (without any application to the actualvacancy in question). The company dropped my agency controlled application within 2 days with trivial, and arbitrary excuses (almost as if they wanted to make it very clear that it was a message, which I did get, by the way), the consultant cited this. A further two days later, I got a direct email form the company with regard to the exact same vacancy stating that they have found my CV in their database, and would like to invite for an interview, when would it be suitable for me, etc. So much about companies taking agencies seriously, eh? Don’t believe recruitment agents for second, and don’t try to moralise around their business, it is their trick against the naive. If they lose their fee, fine, better for the company, and better for you, as it increases likeliness to employ you, with the additional benefit that you have just shown you OWN business-mindedness and a general sense of understanding of basic common interests with your prospective employer. Never a bad thing to show.

    What’s the question here? Agencies are only entitled to a fee where they can actually sell their services. If you could have taken it for free, but chosen to generate unnecessary costs for your prospective employer, well, I give it to your consideration what kind of image you’re starting next your career step with.

  10. Anonymous*

    recruitment agencies are bullshit, and they have no qualifications especially in the fields in which they service. Companies who hire recruitment agencies insult the integrity of their soon to be employees as they do not care about them and are only happy with them when they can provide a service they need.

  11. tommyd*

    Yes I agree, temp agencies call themselves the group, the associates, the hr specialists, ect ect..but what they really do is live off the work of others which is really just another name for job pimping..They have job fairs to increase the client base, then have them come into their offices and waste hours with their testing, and then tell u that nothing is available, or the job u seek was just given out.. Then they use your references to call companies to sollicite their services..Seriously these agencies should be banned and made illegal they have done more to lower the wage scales and benefits of workders…SHOULD BE ILLEGAL..If they tell u anything else its just a lie..seriously if they had that many jobs available, you would be sent out immediatley…DONT BE FOOLED

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