Awkward job referral situation.
February 27, 2012 10:43 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine was looking for a job. I knew that the company I work for was looking for someone in his field, so I offered to forward on his resumé to a recruiter and some of my contacts. What do I do if he doesn't get hired?

Now I feel awkwardly as if I am responsible for his application, as I volunteered and suggested he apply. To be clear, this is not a job in my area of expertise, and I really have no influence in the hiring process at all.

Recently he has contacted me asking if we could meet up to discuss the position, but I really don't know the status or much about the position outside of what I have observed from my colleagues. Furthermore, I don't want to get his hopes up about the job before he has even interviewed.

I really have no idea what the odds are of him getting the job based on his resumé and portfolio, but it seems reasonable that he could be turned down for reasons unrelated to his skills – e.g., somebody else applied first, whatever. So I suppose I am struggling somewhat with an urge to protect him from rejection, or to avoid being an audience to his rejection.

I figure, in the worst case scenario, if they don't offer him the job and he never hears back from them, I get emails/texts from my friend trying to find out the status of his application, which I then have to respond to, somehow, or conspicuously ignore. I should also note he's fairly young and this is his second "real" job, so he may have little received knowledge regarding job searches.

Have I put myself in a bad position, re: the friendship? Is this a case of "no good deed goes unpunished"?
posted by deathpanels to Work & Money (16 answers total)
"Mike, I sent it in but I haven't heard anything. I'll ask Jill in HR but it's out of my hands now and I'm almost as in the dark as you are. Hope they get back to you soon."
posted by michaelh at 10:46 AM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I've been in this position.

I've found the best thing is to say "Hey, $friend, I forwarded your application onto $HRPerson. You should check with them about what's up with the position. Since it's not even in my department, I really don't know what's going on with that sort of thing."

If he keeps pestering you after that, well, he's being inconsiderate.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 10:47 AM on February 27, 2012 [10 favorites]

What? No, of course you're not responsible for his hiring, and you did a very nice thing... I've had friends refer me to jobs at their companies, and I understand that what they can do for me is make it more likely they'll look at my resume, and give me an extra +1 in their heads, and that's it. Send him an email explaining that they won't involve you in the hiring decision at all and you don't know much about the responsibilities, but you'll hope for the best and listen for any news.
posted by brainmouse at 10:47 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

No, this is super common. He may not realize how little insight or connection you have to the process. Or he might just want to talk about what it's like to work at the company.

Just be straight and kind.

"Hey, I'd be glad to chat with you about what it's like to work at Company X, but you gotta know that it's not in my area, and I don't have any insight into or connection to the process. I hope that you hear back from them, though!"
posted by canine epigram at 10:47 AM on February 27, 2012

What you did is very common and a nice thing to do.

All you're obligated to do at this point, I think, is to keep a few tabs on his progress. For example, if they don't get back to him, just check in and see what the status of his application is. If he's been rejected, just let him know; no harm no foul.
posted by losvedir at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's a case of a good deed going punished, but given his age and inexperience, it may be a time where you need to mentor him a little (more than friend him); it may make sense to him to ask you about it, assuming you know much more about it than you do, especially since you made the offer originally.

Just clarify that what you know is not a lot and what you can do to help (beyond what you've done) is even less. And let him know this is pretty standard operating procedure. It's been a long time since I've been in his shoes, but it's quite possible he just doesn't know and would appreciate the clarification.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:50 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

You're not responsible. You also don't have to "meet up" with the guy if you don't have much to say but it would be nice of you to offer a phone call. Then you can tell him what you know about the company, any special talking points about questions he might get in an interview or how he might go about following up. But you should be honest about your ability to exert further influence which is pretty much zero. Talk to the guy and then tell him you'll let him know if you hear of anything.

If you're worried he might have his hopes up too high, you could inquire with HR as to how many applications they got and pass that info along. I know I would appreciate that info. And lots of friends have tried to help me out in my job search. Most of them are not decision makers. It's just how it goes. Be a friend, talk to the guy, but don't take on a big sense of responsibility or guilt. It's just not warranted.
posted by amanda at 11:20 AM on February 27, 2012

"I sent it in, but this is not a job in my area of expertise, and I really have no influence in the hiring process at all. Good luck with it!"

(I disagree with posters that say you should follow up with HR or anyone else about this. You've done a nice thing, and you have no more responsibility in the matter -- especially since you have no first hand knowledge of his work. Strongly advocating for someone who might be wrong for the position could be awkward for you.)
posted by Wordwoman at 11:22 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

1. You make him understand that you have no pull whatsoever.
2. If he doesn't get the job or even an interview, you just shrug and say "What can I tell ya, man? HR is on Mars." Or something like that.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:23 AM on February 27, 2012

I might decline to meet to talk about the position if you really don't know anything about it; just let him know gently that you have done all you can do, and all you know is what's in the position description, &c.

For whatever reason, your friend may think that you have more influence on the process than you do. It's important that you let him know that it's not the case, and eventually to refer him to HR for the thumbs-up/down answer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:26 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

You do nothing - you've forwarded his CV, it's out of your hands. If he brings it up you tell him exactly that.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2012

I was the job applicant who accidentally make a mefite feel this way.

What I really wanted to know was not how to get the job or strings pulled. Instead I was more interested in corporate culture and the level of bureaucracy. If you have the time, touch base and let him know about that. Is it common for your company to hire within, and this is just a long shot? Are you guys growing like crazy? Is it relaxed and sociable or conservative with strict lines between work and leisure?

This can be different within departments, so definitely let them know creative is not finance is not IT. But you probably do have a lot of insight that is useful without being about the job he's applying for. And if he's confused about the level of strings you can pull, it would be nice if you acted as a mentor and told him that networking doesn't work that way.
posted by politikitty at 11:54 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

No, you haven't put yourself in a bad position. You did a very nice thing. I'm with everyone else here - you let him know that you forwarded his resume to HR, maybe give him the name of a contact in HR with whom he can follow up (unless you work at a company where that's totally frowned upon), and you're fine.

I have referred friends for positions at places I've worked who didn't ultimately get hired, and I've had friends refer me for positions I didn't get. In none of those cases did that ruin the friendship at all.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:02 PM on February 27, 2012

I don't understand why you are dancing around so much to protect your friend. Yes, as a friend, you are part of his network, and it's great that you can forward his resume on to another department of your company. And if it should come down to it where you end up as a reference and HR comes asking you about him, you can put in a good word for him then. But unless you yourself work for HR or are part of the interviewing board, the rest of the job application process is not revealed to you as a regular employee, and your friend should not expect you to be the frosting on the cake to get him hired. It should be down to his abilities/skills/personality to get himself hired as a good fit for that department, not yours.

Unless you like nepotism...
posted by Seboshin at 12:06 PM on February 27, 2012

I was alerted to a job by a friend at the company, interviewed for it, and did not receive the job. My friend knew some of the staff on the selection committee, but did not hear about the process. He advised me to put his name in my cover letter (IE, "I found out about this position through John Smith, who has enjoyed working at James College for the past two years in IT..."), texted me on the day of my interview to say good luck, and asked me later about the job. I heard back that I had not been selected, and he said something like, "bummer. That would have been awesome!" I thought his response was appropriate.

I would do what everyone's said above - respond and let your friend know it's out of your hands, and lack of information is normal at this step in the process. If you feel like asking in HR, because you're friendly with one of the staff, fine, but I don't think your friendship is in danger, as long as your friend understands your lack of power in the situation! Be forthcoming with any info you do get - if you see interviews are being held, let him know. It's awful to never hear back from a place, but it happens, so you might be the one to let him down in that way. Just be kind! Good luck!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 12:08 PM on February 27, 2012

Have I put myself in a bad position, re: the friendship? Is this a case of "no good deed goes unpunished"?

Well no, but I do think it's curious that one of your potential responses to him reaching out to you about not getting the position would be to ignore him, and that this is in response to what I think is a reasonable question - you told him about the job, therefore he assumes you might know something about it.

I'm all in agreement with the above that you should inform him that you have no such knowledge and that he'll have to follow up with HR in the future, though.
posted by sm1tten at 12:56 PM on February 27, 2012

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