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I recently interviewed with Software Company X, declined their job offer, and left the process on good terms. They were not quite the right fit for me at this point in my career, but I could potentially see myself contacting them again down the road. Now, I have a close friend who has applied to several positions at X and has not gotten any response. The friend has asked me if I will put in a good word for him with my recruiter (who is internal to Company X).

Obviously, I would like to do a nice favor for my friend, since he's very excited about this company. But I have some hangups:

  • In general, I don't know whether it is considered unprofessional to refer a friend to a company where I don't work. Is this a faux pas that would somehow damage my relationship with Company X?

  • While I went to school with this friend (our majors were tangentially related to our current jobs) and can vouch for him as a generally smart and talented person, we went (relatively) separate ways in our careers and I have not actually worked with him professionally at any point. Also I don't really have an understanding of what the company is looking for in the roles he is interested in. So, I can't genuinely vouch for how good a fit he is for these positions.

So all in all, I would like to do a nice thing for my friend, but I am hesitant to full-on tell the recruiter that she should (re?)consider his resume. Given this information, would it be potentially harmful to my relationship with Company X to refer my friend?

Edit

I think this isn't quite a duplicate of this question because of several complicating variables:

  1. My friend solicited this favor --- it wasn't my idea.

  2. My friend has already sent in several job applications to this company which have not gotten responses.

  3. It is a personal friend, not a previous coworker.
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It doesn't sound like you have a good enough relationship with the recruiter/company to refer your friend, and it doesn't sound like you have enough professional knowledge of your friend to do so either.

BUT It does sound like you have a good enough relationship with the recruiter to drop him a friendly message, asking about your friend, and containing the info in your post here. I'm thinking something along the lines of:

Hi {Internal Recruiter}

I was talking to a friend of mine about your company, and he mentioned that he'd applied too, but not received any response. I know from when I went to school with him that's he's a generally smart and talented person, but I've not actually worked with him professionally at any point. Is there any chance you could do a me a favour and check the status of his application and/or give any feedback?

Thanks

Adam

This is just leveraging your professional network to help your friend a little bit, while avoiding the "putting your reputation on the line" that happens with a referral.

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would it be potentially harmful to my relationship with Company X to refer my friend?

Harm your relationship perhaps not, unless you were too insistent or unprofessional in the way you do it. Or well, if the candidate you refer ends up being less experienced than portrayed.

However, they may find it strange or out of place...

Why? Because such reference will have few to null weight, as you are not in a position to be recommending candidates to this company; you've never worked there for them to trust and respect your professional expertise for your references to have the desired impact on them.

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I can't see any harm in a low-key comment to the recruiter.

It's true that your recommendation, as someone who does not work there, will probably not carry much weight. However, it might be enough to make sure that an actual human, and not just a brain dead key-word matching system, takes a look at his application. On the flip side, since you are so tenuously connected to the company, it also seems unlikely that his performance--or lack thereof--would be tied back to you, unless it was absolutely spectacular (in either direction). This is particularly true if you recommend him to the recruiter, who probably does not know much about hired employees' skill levels.

It seems like your friend would appreciate it, recruiters often appreciate leads, and there's minimal risk. Go for it!

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would it be potentially harmful to my relationship with Company X to refer my friend?

If for any reason there is an issue with your friend, then company X will blame you.

But if you 100% trust your friend to be a decent worker ( behaviour and skill) then there should be no issue. In the end, if your friend is hired then it is the company responsability as they think it is a good fit.

But be sure that your friend's performance will reflect what the company X thinks of you.

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