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Should You Recommend Friends At Work?

The Pros and Cons of a Referral

Should You Recommend Friends At Work?


By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer

A job becomes open where you work. Your first thought is: "I know the perfect person for that role." You have a friend of yours in mind. She's got just the right mix of experience and skills. And she's asked you to keep an eye out if something good comes up.
Now's the moment of truth. Your company offers a $1,000 bonus if they hire who you recommend. And you might save them thousands more in recruiting fees. It's tempting to put your friend's name forward as a candidate.
But before you do, pause a moment. How well do you really know her? Sure she could be a great asset. But there are also those bad habits of hers.
The Facts About Employee Referrals
When companies are hiring, naturally they try to reduce their costs and risks. These costs can add up. There may be direct fees, such as those paid to a third-party recruiter, or to job boards for posting ads. Indirect costs mount too. They include the time/effort it takes for internal employees to source, interview, hire and train new staff.
As for risk, there's uncertainty about the new hire. Will they live up to expectations? Does their personal style mesh with the existing people and processes?
That's why companies encourage referrals from existing staff. They figure it's better to hire someone who's vouched for by a current employee. This way extra recruiting expenses may not be necessary. Plus the candidate comes with a built-in recommendation from a trusted staff member.
Recommending A Friend Can Boost Your Profile
How great it'd be to have your close friend at work with you! Swapping stories. Doing lunch together. Cementing your relationship. Not to mention they'd owe you a big, big favour in return for recommending them.
If the new hire you've referred turns out to be a star, your reputation will benefit. Such a keen eye you have for talent. Your judgment can be trusted. What a loyal thing you've done for the company. Maybe you really are ready for that raise or promotion.
Or It Can Sink Your Reputation Like A Rock
Hold on, though. What if the friend you referred ends up being a dud? Even if they've worked well in other situations, there's no guarantee they'll fit in here.
It'd be expensive for the company to replace them. People's time and efforts would have been wasted. Searching for someone else could delay projects and cut into revenues.
And the embarrassment? Anyone who approved of the hiring won't be amused. Their reputation will take a hit. So don't be surprised if they blame you - publicly and vocally - for causing this fiasco. Now it's your status that'll suffer as well. (Read more about recovering from a workplace mistake.)
How To Refer A Friend If You Have Some Concerns
Let's go back to that friend of yours who has the right stuff, other than some bad habits. If you do refer her, make sure you give the full picture. Holding back about her deficiencies might help her get the job. If, however, those bad habits cause her to disappoint or fail, you'll have only yourself to blame. (See "It Can Sink Your Reputation Like A Rock" above)
Let your friend know that you'll be mentioning any concerns you have about her to the hiring folks. That way your friend can then decide if she wants you to toss her name into the ring accordingly.
Referring A Friend Wholeheartedly
If you really want your friend to get the job, be their advocate. Some extra steps you can take:
- provide a written recommendation from you about how they could benefit your company
- speak to the hiring people internally - talk your friend up before they submit their application
- help your friend prepare for their interview by coaching them on issues and background they can use in their answers (be careful not to reveal confidential info)
- before the final choice is made, let the hiring folks know how keen your friend is to work there
- volunteer to assist in bringing your friend up to speed if they're the chosen candidate
Recommending friends for jobs where you work shouldn't be done lightly. Don't gloss over the downsides. Done properly, you'll keep your friends as friends, and avoid making enemies of your employer.