Partners in business and in life - a bad idea?
December 17, 2012 12:29 PM   Subscribe

When should I (or should I) reveal that my partner is applying for for my old job, given that I now work in a new job in the same institution? Or is the whole thing a bad idea? Managers and HR people, your input would be especially appreciated.

My partner would be a great fit for my old job - the position requires an unusual mix of skills and the ability to work for two very different and relatively demanding bosses. Since I left (after an unusually long time in the job) it's proved difficult to retain a qualified person. My partner, however, is familiar with the job, has virtually all the skills and would (in my opinion) work well with the bosses in question. I still work in this unit, only in a slightly fancier job (which was offered to me based on some years' work in my old job).

I actually talked to the CFO (who isn't going to bring this up with HR), who says that he is not concerned about this and that there have been spousal hires here (at, however, a higher level).

But if my partner applies, do I tell people? If so, when? My partner and I have different last names, so it wouldn't be immediately obvious. If my partner gets an interview, do I disclose then? What about a second interview?

One of the bosses in question would be pretty favorably disposed to my partner based on having been really pleased with my work performance - that is, my former boss would take my recommendation seriously. But that wouldn't be worth it if revealing this made things awkward with everyone else. But also, this job requires some internal training, and I know that there's a preference for internal hires because of this - however, internal hires have not worked out in the past due to the weird skillset required. I feel like my partner is such a great fit that they would be a strong candidate if they could get an interview. It's possible that identifying my partner might get them an interview more easily.

Also, assuming the best possible outcome and my partner gets the job, it would seem weird to just say "thanks for hiring me! By the way, my partner is ________, who works down the hall!" Or would that be the best way to proceed?

Should we even do this at all? I know it seems weird, but this job would be such a perfect fit - and it's the kind of job my partner would want to stay in, whereas everyone hired since me has been interested in moving on quickly, much to the bosses' frustration. So I feel like it would be a real win-win situation.

I am not worried about working down the hall from my partner - our work wouldn't overlap, we are not in the same chain of command, and we are pretty low-drama, not-joined-at-the-hip people anyway.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total)
As for going for it, yes, your partner should totally apply. It sounds like it's been a while since you left, so it's not going to look to anyone like the job is some sort of sinecure.

As for telling people about it, I would recommend that you or your partner does so immediately. HR will be better equipped to handle any requirements (I doubt there are any), but if there's some kind of obscure policy somewhere that says they have to fill out Form X or get Supervisor Y's approval on all family hires, better to get that started now. There's not likely to be any fallout if you reveal it to the company from the outset, but if you don't mention this fairly obvious thing, the longer you go, the more it will seem to the casual observer that there might be some reason you didn't.
posted by Etrigan at 12:33 PM on December 17, 2012

I think you should do whatever you would have done if you were referring a friend for the role. Take the resume to the hiring person and explain (1) why your partner would be a great fit and that (2) she is your partner. Ask them outright if they anticipate a problem (say something like "since this isn't in the same chain of command I figured there'd be no conflict, what do you think?) Hopefully they'll say no and you close with "I know this would be a great fit so thanks for letting me make the referral."
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:45 PM on December 17, 2012

Usually, in the application form, you have to disclose any personal relationships with existing staff.
posted by tel3path at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2012

I would do more than reveal the information. I would explicitly refer them for the job. Then you've revealed the information in a positive context.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:30 PM on December 17, 2012

I think it depends on factors you haven't revealed, such as company culture, HR practices, and how this job process works. Absent that info, I'd go along the lines of what fingersandtoes and jacquilynne suggest. Disclose to those who need to know first and follow their lead for everyone else.

I do find it a bit troubling that the CFO "isn't going to bring this up with HR" because it sounds like that's something one is actually supposed to do in this case, but are trying to avoid. A strong candidate is a strong candidate is a strong candidate unless that candidacy has shady origins.
posted by sm1tten at 5:06 PM on December 17, 2012

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