Should You Try to Bypass Recruiters and Apply for a Job Directly? (VIDEO)

The question isn’t as clear as it seems.



I was asked a question by someone:

“Should you trying to bypass recruiters and apply for job directly?”

As clear as the question may seem, I want to show you how ambiguous and confusing the question is before it started answering it.

First, what kind of recruiters?  Corporate or agency? 

Bypass the recruiter? If this is an agency recruiter, did they speak with you about the job? Did they identify who the firm is?  If this is a corporate recruiter, did you find out about the job on your own and want to apply directly?

Then, there is the language of, “apply for job.”  Are you going to be emailing your resume? Applying for job through an applicant tracking system?  What are you doing here?

Let me start breaking things down for you.

The 1st thing is, “bypass recruiters.”  You don’t have to work with agency recruiters.  If you have contacted a number of them, if you are spoken with 1 of them about this job, and particularly if they have spoken with you about who their client is, do not go around them.  What you are doing then is stealing.  I don’t want to steal information for your own advantage.  What you do then is an attempt to work with our recruiter to get the interview.

If no one has spoken with you about the job, feel free to contact that firm.  Don’t apply for a job.  Don’t go through an applicant tracking system.  Don’t go through corporate HR.  Find the hiring manager.

How do you do that?

You call the firm and ask who’s responsible for that function in the organization.  Thus, in this situation, I am encouraging you to bypass the corporate recruiter, not the agency recruiter.  Again, if you spoke with the agency recruiter about this job, you are using their information and it would be stealing from them, costing them tens of thousands of dollars that can affect their family, affect their business. You are being a thief.

What are you getting out of it anyway?

They’re going to do all the legwork for you. They probably have a relationship with this firm where they can, if you have the right skills, actually get you the interview. What’s in it for you anyway?

I do believe you should bypass corporate recruiters, particularly if the 1st point of entry is the applicant tracking system.

I want to repeat something I say all the time.  Never EVER apply for a job or make it a 1st point of contact through an applicant tracking system.

Number repeat that.

Never EVER apply for a job or make it a 1st point of contact through an applicant tracking system.

Instead, find the hiring manager. Get introduced to the hiring manager by someone you know or someone you are connected with.  It is better to do a pre-interview with someone you know who knows this hiring manager and can walk your resume over to them.  They can tell the manager, “This person contacted me. I think they have a terrific background. Go for it.

On the off chance that you are a lunatic they will walk directly to the firm, drive to the firm, take the subway to the firm to walk in the door and demanded to be interviewed, don’t.Don’t do that, please.

Some will disagree with me and say, “It shows how eager and motivated. You are.

Look at it from the employer side.  1st of all, particularly if you are in an urban area, most buildings have security and you will get past them.You will not get past security.  The 2nd thing is that what you are expecting someone to do is, without any preparation or forewarning, interrupt what they are doing at that moment and talk to you.

Think about it. Is that how you want to be treated?  Do you want to be interrupted all the time and have to contend with someone who, I must and will honestly tell you, almost all the time when people have tried to do this with me, it has been a waste of my time.  All I would do is a security to send a resume to me.

After all, I have had a Purdue chicken plucker apply for a software engineering position.

Don’t apply for jobs that you are not qualified for.  Seriously, all you doing is wasting your time and theirs.  It is going to be more of your time, but they’re going to take one look at your resume and think you are an idiot.  

Don’t show up at someone’s doorstep, expecting to be interviewed.  It is annoying.

But back to the original question.  Should you bypass recruiters and apply for job directly?  Corporate recruiters? Yes.

Agency recruiters?  If you are working with one who will introduce you to this firm, no.

If you want to network you way to that firm, you have to go to an agency. Screw it!  Just go directly to the firm and go directly to the hiring manager.

You can call up on the phone and ask, “Who’s the manager who is responsible for such and such?” If they tried to direct you to HR, simply say, “No!  No!  No!  I’m not looking for HR.  I’m looking for the manager that is responsible for that function.

If they sound unsure, go to the head of the function and work your way down.  In technology, it could be the CIO or CTO.  It is an accounting, it might be the CFO or controller… Just work your way down from the top and reach out to them.


Do you really think employers are trying to help you?

You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell you as much as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.

The skills needed to find a job are different yet complement the skills needed to do a job.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. changes that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

Connect with me on LinkedIn

You can order a copy of “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle for $.99 and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Resume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.”