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A few months ago, I had a few questions about possible career paths within my industry. One of my acquaintances put me in touch with one of his connections (I'll call him Joe), who is an expert in the industry. (I'm a junior level employee with 1.5 years of experience).

I had a great phone conversation with Joe which was super helpful for me. After that conversation, we connected on LinkedIn, but haven't had any interaction with since then.

My boss recently told us that he's looking to hire a senior manager within our department, and (based on what I know about Joe) I think Joe would be a great fit and an amazing asset to the company. However, I'm not sure what proper etiquette is since I don't have any history with Joe other than that one conversation.

I've posted about the job on LinkedIn already, but it's possible Joe didn't see it (since I've never seen any interaction from him on LinkedIn). As far as I know, Joe is not looking for a new job. (He seemed quite happy with his position when we talked on the phone).

  • Is it acceptable to reach out directly to him by forwarding him my post & asking if he's interested?
  • Does it matter that I have never actually met Joe in person or worked with him?
  • Is it better to reach out to our mutual contact & ask him if he thinks Joe would be interested?
  • If Joe is interested, can I refer him even though I don't truly know him?
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If you knew Joe well, it wouldn't be a big deal to reach out and directly ask him - but since you don't, it makes sense to use some tact. That said, I would imagine it would be hard to offend someone by asking if they're interested in a job, so this doesn't seem like a risky thing for you to do - especially in light of the conversation you already had, which paints him as the kind of person who seems willing to help others in the field.

When doing any professional networking reach-out like this, for people you don't know well, I like to frame it in the context of the overall relationship. Also, especially if you're not sure about his job status, it can make sense to mention it indirectly, instead of specifically asking if he would be interested. Taking the indirect route also opens up the possibility that he may know someone else who is interested.

Such a reach-out might look like a LinkedIn message along the lines of,

Hey Joe, I remember from our recent conversation being impressed with your expertise in the industry. My firm is hiring for Senior Role X, and since you're so well connected in our field, I was wondering if you might be aware of anyone fit for the job who might be interested?

I would add one more thought: It can be dangerous (in the sense of putting your current position at risk) to widely advertise that you're on the hunt for a job, so even if people seem happy with their job, they may be looking, even actively looking, and may welcome your request.

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I think it's perfectly acceptable to contact "Joe" directly, e.g. by a LinkedIn inMail (or whatever it's called). Only don't ask him if he's interested; simply state the fact of the opening and note why you think he might be interested in the position. This assuming you can explain why you think so; if you cannot, you shouldn't probably send the message.

It doesn't matter that you've not met "Joe" in person or worked with him; you are not recommending him, you're simply passing along information about the open position.

It's not better to reach out to your mutual contact, as their opinion about "Joe"'s situation is irrelevant; let "Joe" decide.

It's perfectly fine to refer "Joe" to your employer, as long as you openly state that you don't know him well and therefore cannot provide a recommendation. Referral is not a recommendation.

  • +1 for "Referral is not a recommendation." They can be related, but are not the same thing. – J. Chris Compton Jan 22 at 15:53
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Is it acceptable to reach out directly to him by forwarding him my post & asking if he's interested?

Yes, that's perfectly acceptable.

Does it matter that I have never actually met Joe in person or worked with him?

No, that doesn't matter, as long as you don't misrepresent your connection with Joe to your boss.

Is it better to reach out to our mutual contact & ask him if he thinks Joe would be interested?

No. There is no need to have your mutual contact involved. This has nothing to do with that acquaintance.

If Joe is interested, can I refer him even though I don't truly know him?

Sure. Again, make sure you make it clear that you only know Joe through a friend and a phone call.

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    So are you interested in the job? No need to talk in the third person here! – Peter M Jan 18 at 18:15

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