Should I try to recruit a former classmate?
February 11, 2015 8:05 AM   Subscribe

I was looking up old school acquaintances online recently, and found the LinkedIn profile of a classmate from grad school. She's got just the resume my team desperately needs (MVC web development, natural language processing) and I know she's very smart. But I never knew her that well in school, and mostly remember her because of the secret crush I had on her back then. Would it be okay to email her about the open position at my company?

She's Iranian, I'm American, and we went to grad school together in Scandinavia together five years ago. I went back home but she's been working there since. We were in some of the same classes, and had enough conversations that she'd probably remember me. She also worked on her masters thesis with a friend I'm still vaguely in touch with.

I was clueless enough about dating back then that if I was interested in you, you probably wouldn't have known it. I don't know if she ever picked up on it. I've since improved my dating skills and am currently in a new but promising relationship.

My company is smallish but growing quickly and absolutely terrible at recruiting experienced developers. We desperately need someone like her. And she may know others who'd be qualified for the job and might want to move to the U.S. My company is really great about sponsoring visas and green cards, so that's not as big an issue as it sounds.

So I guess my question is, would it be creepy to contact her and mention the open position? I feel like I can be professional working with her, were that to happen, and I'd happy if the conversation led to any good applicants. And to be clear, this position is at the same level as me. I'm not a hiring manager, but the company actively encourages employees to refer people they know. (There's even a cash bonus, which I don't care about.)
posted by serathen to Work & Money (17 answers total)
Just forget about the crush and it will be fine. This is a common recruiting vector. There's a common style to "we used to be friends/acquaintances/classmates and now we are talking in a professional capacity" communications that people are used to once they're been working a little while, so she will understand what you want to communicate.
posted by michaelh at 8:08 AM on February 11, 2015 [10 favorites]

Honestly, I think it would be grossly unfair to not offer her the opportunity because you at one time found her attractive - this is literally the kind of thing that hurts women in the workplace. Tell her about the opportunity, see if she's interested.
posted by lunasol at 8:10 AM on February 11, 2015 [77 favorites]

Offer her the opportunity, interview her and if she's a fit, hire her.

You're professional and a grown up and as long as you know that you can NEVER, NEVER, NEVER rekindle your crush or act upon it, it should be fine.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:15 AM on February 11, 2015 [7 favorites]

If at least 99.9 percent of the reason you want to suggest her is because she be a good fit for the job and not because you want another chance with her that's fine.
posted by wwax at 8:17 AM on February 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

I don't know, I feel kind of uncomfortable about your motives and if she was even the slightest bit aware you had a crush on her, this could feel very creepy to her. She does live across the ocean, correct? And you haven't spoken in years, and have clearly been trolling linkedin looking for her specifically. If you really, genuinely believe you're contacting her solely because she's very qualified - i.e., if you would contact any other person you knew with a similar resume about the opportunity - I guess go for it. But be prepared for her to be a little weirded out. I think I would be, if contacted in a similar situation.
posted by something something at 8:20 AM on February 11, 2015

It seems totally fine to me - the fact that you once had a vague inkling of a feeling for her that you never acted upon nor did she ever know about is irrelevant. You have a need, you are aware that she has a skillset that fills your need. Contact her.
posted by Urban Winter at 8:21 AM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

As long as no part of your contact with her even alludes to the fact that you had an unannounced crush on her, you are not being a creep at all. Just contact her, mention that you remember her from school and there's a position at your work she might be interested in. That's how networking is supposed to function: you use your school/business/social connection as a means of starting a conversation about professional opportunities and needs.

That's how I got the job I currently have and love. A person I had litigated a very small case against out of the blue sent me an email saying "Hey, I vaguely remembered you saying something about your pro bono work and the organization I'm on the board of is hiring, if you're interested in applying." I don't think I've had a conversation with the man since, except brief "hellos" at fundraisers. No creepiness factor at all.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:33 AM on February 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Do you have other former classmates that might be a good fit for the position? If so, your focus on her is a little inappropriate. Maybe a mass email to a number of your former classmates, an alumni group, or the school's career counseling office would still come to her attention, but be less creepy. You could even contact her separately after the mass email to let her know you think she is a particularly good fit.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:33 AM on February 11, 2015

This doesn't sound at all creepy.
posted by jaguar at 8:37 AM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

This would only be creepy if in the email you said something like 'you may not have known I had a crush on you!' As long as you leave any mention/thought of the crush back in the past where it belongs, I think you're fine, and yes, this is how networking is supposed to happen.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:40 AM on February 11, 2015

Whether or not you mean to be creepy, you have just asked a very specific questions with lots of identifying info on a public forum. How do you think she would react if she ever ran across this post after accepting the recruitment offer? (I don't know her. She might find it mildly amusing, somewhat creepy, or no big deal. But the odds are fairly good that she or someone you work with will find this post.)
posted by maudlin at 8:45 AM on February 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Make your communications with her on a strictly professional basis. If it is within your power to do so, call her in for an interview, or request that the appropriate people do so. Interview her, and if she's a good fit, make an offer.

You must ignore any crush you once had.
posted by tckma at 8:54 AM on February 11, 2015

Absolutely, if you found her through LinkedIn. That's what it's there for. Or, since you mentioned you're not the one actively doing the hiring, pass the link to her profile along to the person who would be doing the hiring with a note saying something like "We're not close today, but I knew her in grad school and her resume looks to be exactly what we're looking for -- will you reach out, or should I?"
posted by cgg at 9:13 AM on February 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

If she didn't know or at least didn't reciprocate and you didn't make things weird at the time, which it sounds like you didn't, then this probably feels substantially creepier to you than it actually will to this third party. "People you used to find attractive" is always a really weird category to deal with, even when you've totally moved on, but I think your brain will come around to the new status quo just fine if you ended up working with her on an ongoing basis.
posted by Sequence at 9:20 AM on February 11, 2015

"Hey [friend], nice to see you again (if only virtually)! I wanted to drop you a line because my company is opening up a position for [job title] and you instantly came to mind, your resume looks like a good fit. If you have any interest, let me know and I'll put you in touch with the right people. I hope you are doing well! Best, [your name]."
posted by amanda at 9:27 AM on February 11, 2015

Response by poster: Email sent. Thanks everyone!
posted by serathen at 9:44 AM on February 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

This is why I wouldn't have: "I don't know if she ever picked up on it. I've since improved my dating skills and am currently in a new but promising relationship."

If this question had been posed as, "I am in a new and promising relationship, and I want to try recruiting an international candidate, who I used to have a crush on, to come work in my company. What do you think?" Everyone would say it was a bad idea.

Don't think so? Go home tonight an explain to your girlfriend how you're trolling ex-crushes to see if they are good job candidates and see how understanding she is.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:44 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

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