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How to Refer a Friend for a Job

How to Refer a Friend for a Job

Nealeigh Mitchell | MonsterCollege

September 09, 2010

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

Sure, those potential perks make you feel good, but they aren’t reason enough to go to bat for someone not worthy of a reference. At times like this, it pays to go with your gut. Ask yourself some basic questions about your friend’s desirability.

Is she reliable? Does she have strong work ethic? Is she hotheaded? Does she play well with others? Does she gossip? Did she deserve to be fired from her last job? Will her last employer not write a favorable reference? If you answered “No” to most of these questions, rethink serving as a reference. A true friend will understand your hesitation.

Be Professional

How you go about referring your friend is just as important as why. While you may feel comfortable chatting up your boss over a cup of coffee, it’s best to take the professional route and get it down on paper. Even though a character reference isn’t as standardized and formal as a typical employer reference, you don’t want your boss’s first impression of your friend to be a hastily-written, sloppy blurb about how “good she is with her kids.” Make an effort — and improve her chances of getting hired — by constructing your letter around positive attributes that translate for the job’s qualifications. Because your employer knows you’re essentially trying to sell your friend, back up your high opinion with specific events or circumstances that demonstrate these qualities.

Be Realistic

Make it known that just because you put in a good word doesn’t mean she’s a shoe-in for the job. She’ll be expected to go through the entire application process, including submitting resumes and interviewing. It’s still up to the employer to make the final decision, so encourage her to take the application process seriously. Offer to help edit her resume or practice interviewing.

Remember, referring a friend can make or break your career — and your friendship.

In the best case, your boss will be grateful you saved her the time of sifting through hundreds of resumes. You’ll earn points for handing her a superstar on a silver platter.

In the worst case, your friend drops the ball by being completely unreliable and an ineffective worker. Your employer can’t help but question your trustworthiness. There goes your reputation and possibly your friendship.

So take the time to seriously consider whether your friend is a good fit for the company. Then get to bragging or letting her down easy by offering to help out in other ways.