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Why you should think twice before you recommend a friend for a job

23 June 2016, 10:48 Staff

A few years back I recommended someone for a job that he, in retrospect, should probably not have gotten in the first place. At the time, I thought he’d be a good fit. We studied in the same field, took the same courses and were always keen to work our hardest to achieve the best results possible. What I didn’t take into account when I provided a reference for him, was that years had gone by since we’d last seen each other.

He eventually ended up getting the job, and for a few months, all was well. That was, until he was left to his own devices when everyone went on leave. While everyone was gone, he thought it was a good idea to neglect doing his duties and spent most of his time messing around on the internet, skyping friends and chatting on Facebook.  

When he was unable to provide a solid count of the amount of work he was supposed to have gotten done by the time everyone was back, he was obviously in trouble.

Needless to say, he nearly jeopardised his position within the company, ended up being performance managed and was soon one of the first people to be retrenched when the department closed down.

I’ve avoided recommending a friend for a job ever since. I’ve also not spoken to said friend following that fallout.

While I learnt a valuable lesson from that experience, I get why people want to recommend their friends. The last thing you want to do is not help a friend in need, but sometimes the risk you take in helping them only does more harm than good.

Here are 3 important reasons you should reconsider nominating your friend for that job.

1.  Recommending a job could change the dynamic of your friendship for good.

A bad recommendation could make you look bad (people won’t say it, but there’s a good chance they’ll be thinking it) and your desire to help, could definitely be coming from a place of bias. We all want the best for our friends, but in some instances, it’s better to support from the sidelines instead of the arena.

And if your friend doesn’t get that job, he or she may think that you could have done more to help them.

2.  Is your friend really qualified?

Just because you’re good friends with someone, does not mean that it will translate itself into them being great at a specific job.  I learnt that the hard way. Yes, the person I recommended was a nice person, but him being a lovely person didn’t help him save his job in the long run.

You can be a wonderful person, but still not be capable of doing a job that’s required of you.  And you need to be honest enough to consider your friend’s flaws and strong points if you really want to go that route.

3.  Have you actually worked with your friend before?

A great way to discover whether or not someone is actually worth a referral is by having worked with them before. Because to be fair, most of the time, you spend with your friends is outside of work. However, having actually worked with close friends means that you’re able to give a referral based on what you know and what you’ve experienced as opposed to information you’re hearing on a second-hand basis.

Also, consider how many years it has been since you’ve last worked with the person.  In my case, it’s been years and the work ethic that my friend originally had back then, was definitely not on the same level it was when he was hired.



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