Should I Refer My Friend for a Job If I Don’t Think He’s a Good Fit?

Should I Refer My Friend for a Job If I Don’t Think He’s a Good Fit?

Do you have career questions you wish you could ask your boss — but just can’t? Ask us instead! In our "Dear Boss" series, LearnVest managers answer your trickiest work-related dilemmas, whether it’s how to deal with a nightmare co-worker, how to ask for that raise you deserve or something else that's been keeping you up at night. Email us your questions. (And don't worry — all submissions are anonymous.)

Dear Boss,

A friend of mine is interested in a job at my company and asked me to refer him. I’m not sure if he’s the right person for the position. Do I let him know, or just refer him anyway?

Stuck in the Middle

Dear Stuck in the Middle,

I see your dilemma: You’re trying to balance being a good friend and being a good employee. You don't want to let your friend down, but you also don't want to risk your reputation by recommending someone who isn’t a good fit.

My suggestion is to be fair to both parties.

Tell your friend you'll submit his information to your company's recruiting team, but hint that they’re looking for someone with a very specific skill set, or let your friend know that he might not be too crazy about the job responsibilities so he can manage his expectations.

Then, when you share your friend's information with your company’s recruiting team, stay neutral. Send along your friend’s resume with a simple note that you’re forwarding it along on behalf of someone who’s interested in the position. It’s really up to the recruiters to decide whether an applicant is worth moving forward with. If you’re asked follow-up questions and you’ve actually worked together with your friend, it’s OK to comment on what you’ve observed. If you haven’t worked together, then simply let the recruiting team know that you may not be the best judge of your friend as an employee.

If you’re tight with your recruiting team, they may even be able to tell whether or not you’re excited about a potential hire. For example, when I’m a fan of a candidate, I make it known. I'll write a glowing review and submit my referral in person to ensure the recruiter gets the best impression. When I don’t do those things, the recruiter gets the hint.

Finally, don’t feel guilty for being hesitant to work with a friend — it may even be better to keep your personal life separate from your professional one. My best friend and I have a great relationship, but that doesn’t mean we’re a good fit in an office together (no offense!). We have different working styles, and I wouldn’t want our jobs to interfere with our friendship.

Best of luck,
Abigail Gray
Vice President of Design, LearnVest

RELATED: How Do I Tell My Boss He’s a Micromanager?

Information offered for educational purposes only. Employment and labor laws may vary by state. Remember to check your local regulations.


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