How to Handle a Friend Asking for a Job at Your Work
Work + Life Balance

How to Handle a Friend Asking for a Job at Your Work

CHANCES ARE, OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER, A JOB-HUNTING FRIEND WILL COME AT YOU WITH: “OMG, THERE’S A JOB OPENING AT YOUR WORK! WHAT IF WE WERE COWORKERS? WOULDN’T THAT BE THE BEST THING EVER?!”

Maybe...or maybe not so much. At first, you’re excited because you care about your friend and want her to find a good job, but then reality starts to sink in. As friends, we’re expected to do everything we can to help each other out. But what if you’re uncertain whether your friend is the right candidate? Here are a few best approaches for those tricky situations.

YOU KNOW THIS IS THE WRONG JOB FOR HER

You know your friend likes a lax work environment, small company, room for rapid growth, and dress code freedom—and that’s definitely not what your company is. Your duty is to fill her in on that. {click to tweet} Whether it’s the long hours, company culture, deadline stress, or management issues, you need to be honest with your friend about your experiences and give her a realistic idea of what working for your company might entail. Do a quick comparison by asking her what she likes and wants in a workplace and describing your own experiences with your office. Once you've done your due diligence, you’ll have to let her decide whether those negatives you mentioned are enough to discourage her from applying.

YOU THINK SHE MIGHT BE THE WRONG FIT

If this is the case, the first thing to do is let your friend know why you don’t necessarily think this is the right job for her. Gently compare her qualifications, years of experience, areas of expertise, etc. to what is listed in the job description. Maybe she's totally overqualified and you think she can do better. If so, you definitely owe it to her to tell her so. On the other hand, if you believe she's underqualified, hint at that gently. Or, if you feel she won't appreciate your feedback, let her apply and allow the hiring manager to make that judgement call. That way your hands are clean. Just make it clear to your friend that you don’t make the final decisions regarding interviews.

You know your friend likes a lax work environment, small company, room for rapid growth, and dress code freedom, and that’s not what your company is. Your duty is to fill her in on that.

YOU WANT TO KEEP YOUR WORK LIFE SEPARATE FROM YOUR PERSONAL LIFE

This is a tough one since it’s nothing against your friend or her work experience. You may think working with a friend will be distracting, want to keep your work life separate from your personal life, or think your friend might threaten your success. Ask yourself why the idea makes you uncomfortable, and consider whether it's a good enough reason to say no. Whatever the reason may be, you should be honest with her. Let her know (in the nicest way possible) that you don’t feel comfortable working with her. It might feel awkward and she might be a little hurt, but any true friend will ultimately appreciate your honesty.

YOU JUST DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE “PUTTING IN A GOOD WORD”

Perhaps you know her track record with previous jobs has been rocky, she isn’t the best candidate, or maybe your relationship with your manager is questionable and you know recommending someone will only make it worse. Whatever the reason, sometimes you’re just not OK with providing a hookup. {click to tweet} Once again, the key is to be as open as possible with your friend about your reasoning. If the issue lies beyond her qualifications, consider encouraging her to still apply without your recommendation. 

YOU THINK WORKING WITH YOUR FRIEND SOUNDS AWESOME

If you have a feeling that being coworkers with your bestie would be, oh...the best thing ever, then go ahead and pass along her information to your managers. However, you might want to downplay your personal relationship to increase her chances of getting hired. While managers tend to love referrals, they can also get nervous about the complications of friends working together.

Here are some best practices to (hopefully) get your BFF hired:

  • Mention in passing to your managers that you have a contact in mind for the job opening
  • Follow up a day or two later by sending an email over to your manager with your friend’s resume and cover letter
  • In your email, be open about your relationship and admit that this is a friend of yours—but no need to add in all the details about your relationship. Just simply say “My friend…” and go from there.
  • Be sure to include a personal recommendation on how you believe they will fit into the company’s culture and their stellar attributes
  • Allow your manager to take control and make the decision on whether to follow up with your friend or not—at this point, it’s out of your hands

Being coworkers with your friends can be awesome or a disaster. It’s up to you to ultimately decide what's best for you while still keeping in mind your friend’s feelings and needs. The worst thing would be to lose one of your best friends over a situation as silly as a job interview. Keep it all in perspective.

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Have you ever had a friend ask you for a job at your work? We want to know what you did and how it turned out!