Thinking of recommending a friend for that job? Here’s how to get it right

Nov 23, 2021

5 mins

Thinking of recommending a friend for that job? Here’s how to get it right
Elisa Piñón Hermida

Periodista - Welcome to the Jungle

Friends are hugely important to our lives. Who doesn’t have a friend they would do anything for? If they ask to sleep on your sofa because they have argued with their partner, you take them in. At the same time, if you need a shoulder to cry on, they’re there. True friends are the ones who stick around when all else fails. But what if they ask you to recommend them for a job in your company? Are work relationships different from friendships? Should you keep the two separate? We asked a professional development expert what to consider before making a recommendation. We also asked some people who have recommended a friend for a job in their company to tell us how it went.

As social beings, we all need to have friends in different areas of our lives. They make us happy. That is why if a friend asks you for a hand in getting a job, you try to do everything in your power to help them out. Professional development expert Mercedes Korin says it is not surprising that we call on our friends to help us to get work since “our friends know us better than any LinkedIn algorithm.”

If you are considering recommending a friend for a job, however, this can place you in a difficult position. You know that person as a friend, but what are they like at work? Are they good at their job? Does their profile fit what your company is looking for? What happens if things go wrong? What responsibility do you assume as someone who has recommended a new employee? All these questions and more can flash through your head when trying to decide what is the right thing to do.

Is it a good a match?

For Korin, the most important thing when recommending a friend is to remain objective about your friend’s abilities and the type of candidate sought for the job. She advises being transparent and straightforward with your company and with your friend about what they can expect from each other. With your friend you can, for example, share any information you have about the company, such as how it operates, the work environment or the company culture.

In the case of the company, “it is not about presenting your friend as if they were a Christmas gift, but about taking advantage of all their positive qualities to introduce them as the ideal person for the position since they have the characteristics that fit the profile,” says Korin. “It is also important to prioritize the information: first give the objective facts and then the subjective ones.” For example, if you think your friend meets the requirements, you can support your view based on references from former bosses or their colleagues.

At the same time, you need to consider the possibility that your friend might not meet the necessary requirements. “Any action you take should be based on objective facts,” says Korin, adding that if your friend does not fit the profile, you can justify your decision not to recommend them. This is something that Yosy Blanco has always been clear about: “I have had many opportunities to offer work to friends of mine … at a leisure and entertainment company, but I have only done it once, since the rest of my friends were not right for the jobs in my view.”

How is your friend at work?

So you have to take into consideration whether your friend will be a good fit for the role. Then you also need to know what your friend is like at work and what experience they have before deciding whether to try to help. In Blanco’s case, he decided to recommend a friend with whom he had done an internship. It meant that he knew how that person worked and was convinced that he was suitable for the position.

These reasons also led Álvaro Núñez, an audio-visual producer, to recommend an acquaintance to work in a production company. “I would never recommend someone if I had any doubt about their work because the trust the company has placed in me is at stake,” he says. Korin agrees with that approach. Don’t forget that your work prospects, your name and reputation may be on the line, she says. In addition, if your friend is not right for the role, they may not do well in the job and your friendship may suffer.

But what can you say if you’ve never worked alongside your friend? Korin recommends being upfront with the company. Be clear that you know them as a friend only, rather than as a colleague, and your recommendation is based on their resume.

What responsibility do you have with a recommendation?

Once you have decided to recommend someone, it is perfectly normal to feel a sense of responsibility, especially if things go wrong. Korin says, however, that you should keep a professional distance and not take on the role of intermediary. “The company will have less right to hold you responsible, if you have been clear and have set limits around your role as a one-time intermediary,” she says.

Lucía Orjales, who works in the hospitality industry, found herself in this situation after recommending a friend for a position in the same sector. “At first everything was going well, but there came a time when he started doing things wrong and abusing his position. Although I knew I did not have to apologize, it is true that I felt responsible because I had recommended him and it hadn’t turned out as expected,” Orjales says. She says will think twice before recommending someone close to her again for a role.

It’s not all bad, however. When things go well, new opportunities may also arise. Núñez, for example, got a new order from the production company that he recommended his friend to. “In audio-visuals, you have to have a thousand contacts to support you so that later you can also support them,” he says.

Separate the personal from the professional?

Regardless of the result of your recommendation, this decision can arouse all kinds of emotions. There may be the joy of working together, with the possibility of helping each other to improve and of celebrating each other’s achievements. Or there may be jealousy if one enjoys better conditions, or awkwardness if one doesn’t appreciate how the other behaves. In this sense, people who have the capacity for reflection and are able to communicate effectively tend to do better.

The line that divides the personal and the professional can become blurred. But for Korin, the fact that we tend to differentiate the personal from the professional sphere, and that we question how we should manage our relationships when the two come together, causes complications to arise. “It might seem that we have two defined and separate lives, but the reality is that we have only one life. I trust that the new generations will configure life systems in which these issues are not an issue in themselves or a problem to be solved,” she says. As she sees it, in future we will have to accept that our personal and professional lives are intertwined culturally and economically.

Translated by: Sunita Maharaj

Photo: WTTJ

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