So you’ve heard of an awesome gig at your company that’s not right for you, but would be perfect for your friend. Not only does she have the right skills, but she also has the type of personality that would thrive in the position.
You’re excited to tell your friend about this killer job and refer a qualified candidate to your employers. For the most part, it’s a win-win situation. You feel good about helping your friend and your company; they feel good about you. And what goes around comes around eventually.
But before you rush into anything, you should consider the ramifications of referring a friend to your employers, both in terms of your friendship and your professional reputation. Here are some tips on how to best proceed.
Make a List of Your Friend’s Attributes
Before you do anything, think about why your friend would be great for the job. List the qualities that make her an ideal candidate. That way you’ll be able to articulate your reasons for referring her while defending against anyone inclined to regard your referral as biased.
Plus, it will give you a chance to decide if your recommendation is truly based on your friend’s qualifications rather than just on your affection. Although numerous social skills can translate well to a job, knowing a friend socially is not the same as knowing them professionally. Referring an unqualified candidate can reflect poorly on your judgment.
Be a Second Set of Eyes
It’s in your best interest to help your friend make a great impression. So offer to review her professional documents, including resumes, cover letters and/or portfolios. Your insight can help her highlight the skills and qualifications best suited to the job.
Also pay particular attention to any typos, grammatical errors or awkward sentence constructions. It doesn’t matter how ingenious your friend is, if she submits a resume with errors, she’s going to come across as sloppy and incompetent.
Setting a professional tone early on establishes some boundaries and helps inoculate both your friendship and your professional reputation against hard feelings. First make it clear to your friend that although you’ll do everything you can to help, that alone won’t guarantee her the job. There are so many variables that are out of your control including chemistry, competition and how your friend performs in an interview. As long as she understands that, she’ll be more appreciative of your effort and less likely to blame you if she doesn’t get the job.
Also, make sure to recommend your friend using the proper channels. Unless you have a casual, friendly relationship with your boss and/or senior management, don’t simply bust into their office unannounced. Instead send an email enthusiastically endorsing your friend and her abilities.
It’s okay (even preferred) to refer to her by her first name. State how long you’ve known her and why she’d make a great team player. For example, “I recommend Emily for the position of project manager because of her conscientiousness, enthusiasm and ability to motivate others. She was well-liked and respected by everyone she worked with at ABC Inc. (including me).”
If it’s someone you don’t know professionally, be sure to say that and describe how you know each other and what you’ve been able to glean from your social connection. For example, “I don’t know Nathan professionally, but our kids have known each other since preschool. Based on our friendship, I’ve learned that he’s a creatively driven person who’s taken a leadership role in developing several successful products at ABC Software Company.”
End by saying you would love to answer any questions about your friend.
Lastly, remember that these days, referrals are the bread and butter of most recruiters and hiring managers. With the majority of new hires coming from referrals, you’re ultimately doing everyone a favor: your friend, your company and you.