THE BLOG

Things to Consider When Hiring Friends

"Hi, my sister told me you worked at this company and I would love to take you to lunch and discuss the administrative assistant role that is currently available."

"Hey, I saw there is a job I think I'm really qualified for at your company, can you pass my resume along?"

"Hi. I know we haven't talked in years but I am very interested in the account manager role at your company. I applied for it but I'm not sure if I'm qualified. Are you able to put in a good word for me?"

These were the types of emails, Facebook and LinkedIn messages I would receive on a weekly basis.

I was never in the recruiting or human resources departments. I was an employee at companies that were very reputable. Companies that were extremely sought-after. Companies that were on lists of "Best Places to Work" and "Most Fun Work Environment."

When "friends" saw that I worked for these companies - they immediately came looking for me to help them get a job.

The cliché phrase, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" certainly rings true. It's hard to acquire jobs by blindly applying on job sites but how does an employee at an existing company handle responding to friends or friends of friends who are interested in working there? What's an appropriate response?

"I found it helpful to ask the candidate to be specific about why they were interested in working at the company, and their main differentiators as a job seeker. I generally ask what is one facet in their competency area they'd suggest changing, or what's something they've noticed that we as a company could improve upon." says Brooke German, founder of AREA GREY.

Having the candidate explain why they want to join the company and showcase what makes them different from all other candidates, really puts them on the spot to show their true interest, admiration and connection to the company.

"This tactic of gleaning additional information and requiring a bit more thought from the candidate enables me to separate serious candidates from those less eager and allows me to feel comfortable recommending them to hiring managers if their skill sets are appropriate." says German.

There are plenty of people who are applying to 25 jobs a week without really paying attention to what the qualifications and requirements are. They see a cool company and want to be in on it.

"I've always been very weary of making introductions or recommendations for friends on the job front, because being someone's good friend does not necessarily give you any indication of their work capabilities, business acumen, etc." says marketing and communications consultant, Brona Cosgrave. "I always proceed with caution when making an intro to HR, clearly stating the level of my relationship and interaction. I never presume too much, as a bad recommendation can reflect negatively on you too."

Sam Zises, Founder & CEO of [L]earned Media notes that many companies have referral programs setup, which incentivizes employees to recommend their friends resumes. This often seems worthwhile to employees even if they don't really know how qualified the candidate is. "If you work at a smaller firm, you may be a bit more hesitant to forward your awkward cousin or younger brother's resume with the risk that it will reflect poorly on you." says Sam. "To avoid these circumstances, I often find it best to simply supply that individual with the contact information or job website, and tell them that you're 'just not in a position to make a referral'.

When you're considering submitting a 'friends' resume to the hiring manager - consider your relationship to the candidate, how this can reflect on you and if you think it's really worth the risk.