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I have a friend who attended university with me (on the same course) and he had to drop out at a late stage due to personal reasons. Since then he has kept an interest in software development, but has been working in a non IT field for the last 4-5 years.I have known him for roughly 20 years so I am a very close friend

A position is coming up in the company I work at for a graduate level developer for a QA position. This position is not being advertised for another 6-7 months. Although my friend does not have the qualifications on paper regarding this position I truly believe he can work to become a great engineer, from our time spent together at university.

I would like to put him forward for this position, with a little bit of self-learning and training before this position is advertised, so he can compete with the graduate level applicants.

Should I put him forward with the caveat that he would need to brush up on his skill-set before getting employed?

  • i don't get what you're asking... are you asking if you should help a good friend? if you should help the company find a good engineer? or maybe you are asking if doing the right thing is its own reward? – bharal Oct 25 '14 at 13:33
  • Have you mentioned him this position? Is he actually interested and ready to brush up his skills in order to get the job? – Péter Török Oct 25 '14 at 13:41
  • @PéterTörök I haven't asked my friend about the position yet, but he has borrowed various programming books from me, so I take that as an indicator of interest and I know he is looking to get out of his current job. – stuartmclark Oct 25 '14 at 15:07
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    @bharal : Should I ask my company to take a chance on an unqualified persons for an upcoming position, am I putting myself at risk, if he turns out to not be what I thought he could be? – stuartmclark Oct 25 '14 at 15:08
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    @bharal - I wouldn't expect a friend to recommend me for a job I'm not qualified especially if it meant he or she would be putting their position at risk. What you see as one friend helping up another friend, I see it as one friend pulling down another. – user8365 Oct 26 '14 at 10:59
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Anyone you decide to recommend reflects on you, be that well or poorly. Given that, it's always in your best interests to only recommend those that you feel absolutely confident in; that is to say, you believe that they can handle the job without needing too much of a helping hand for the basics.

I can understand and respect that you want to help out a friend, but the position you're referring him for and the technical skills he's been training towards potentially don't have the same match. While some QA Engineers are given direction to do automation, or would want to have a background in the language to know some of the fringe behaviors of the system, what you're describing is a friend that has some programming knowledge, but would be asked to do testing of a system. Think of questions like, "How would you test a pen?", and be sure that all of the conditions are covered satisfactorily for someone in test.

If it were me, I'd talk to the person first to see if they'd be willing to go in that direction, and if they are, then I'd talk with the company to see if they'd be willing to take a chance on a rookie. Once both of those conversations go over well, then I'd ask my friend to bone up a bit on their technical skills and the skills needed for the position.

  • -1 you answer a question this isn't posed. – bharal Oct 26 '14 at 2:19
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    How do I not answer the question? Even if they are a friend, a recommendation is still a reflection on you, both as an evaluator of technical skill and indicates confidence in whomever they've recommended. Even if they are a friend, recommending them for a job that they're not qualified for hurts everyone involved. – Makoto Oct 26 '14 at 3:04
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I think you can recommend your friend, but you need to be honest about it. He doesn't have some of the recommended credentials, but you have some inside information about this person's strengths and ability to learn. It is difficult to observe candidates in a one hour interview in the way you did when you were in school. Often companies have what seem to be arbitrary requirements (3 years or more) because they are not able to evaluate talent.

You need to be aware of the consequences of your recommendation. Your honesty could come into question if your friend doesn't perform. Have a conversation with your friend and see if he is willing to put you in this risky situation. Some people prefer not to have that pressure and a good friend wouldn't want you to risk your job. Putting your friend in a situation where he may be likely to fail is just going to hurt everyone in the long run.

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    I basically agree but I think as long as the OP doesn't misrepresent the skill and aptitude of the employee, there is no risk to his reputation if the friend turns out not to be up to the job. People can fail at jobs for many reasons even when they're appropriately qualified, credentialed, and evaluated by multiple methods. It would be very strange if the OP was an otherwise good employee and then put his job at risk simply because he recommended someone that did not work out. – teego1967 Oct 27 '14 at 12:41
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    I have to agree with teego, one bad recommendation, happens, multiple doesn't mean I fire or discipline you, it means I stop taking your recommendations. – RualStorge Oct 27 '14 at 20:44
  • @RualStorge - I would agree, but if you recommend a friend with some short-comings, a risky exception was made. Imaginations could run wild when they speculate why you had such a bias. If it was just someone you worked with at another company, then I would see it as just a single mistake. – user8365 Oct 28 '14 at 0:48
  • +1 for suggesting good communication with the potentially recommended person. – Areks Oct 28 '14 at 21:12
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You should not recommend anyone if there's a good chance that they might not live up to the expectations.

And it's not because you should not help, it's because you are not helping anyone. By recommending an underqualified individual you are wasting the company's time and resources but at the same time you are wasting your friend's time. If that isn't bad enough you are damaging your and your friend's reputation.

If you want to really help your friend in this specific case, make sure he is absolutely capable to perform the job as he is going to be expected to. Keep in mind that his boss will not be his friend.

In case he's not qualified, it's not all lost. Teach him, try to make him upgrade his skills. Instead of going to a bar for a beer or two, plan meetings to study and learn together, eventually he will presumably improve to a satisfactory level and that is when you can recommend him without even having to ask this question to us.

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You need to evaluate this from several perspectives and then make your choice.

First how is the company you work for likely to respond if the person does not have the qualifications they want. Some companies are more likely to waive qualifications than others and some qualifications are more important to stick to than others. So first pretend this person is not your friend and look realistically at whether his qualifications are close enough that he would even be considered. If you know they won't waive that college degree, it is not fair to him to get his hopes up.

Next you have to consider your own reputation in your current company. If you recommend someone who is not remotely qualifed, it reflects on your judgement. If you recommend someone who is close to being qualified and they take your word for it and hire him and he doesn't work out, then it calls your judgement into question which is virtually never a good idea in the workplace. You are not likely to lose your job over this, but you don't want your boss to lose confidence in you either. So you need to evaluate the potential risk to your own reputation when you think about recommending someone. This is basically a risk analysis and you need to determine if this is a risk you want to take or not. I had to tell my boyfriend's sister I would not recommend her for a job she really wanted because she was an alcoholic and couldn't be depended on to even show up for work. I can't risk my own career on that! This particular situation doesn't sound that risky by any means, but you need to evaluate the risk. A good friend would not want you to put your own career at risk to help him. And if he doesn't work out, both of you lose and your friendship is usually strained too.

You may also need to consider if you actually want to work with this person on a daily basis. Some people prefer not to have close friends or relatives work with them daily as it can cause conflict in the primary relationship. For instance, he is going to be QA and you are a dev. He could, in doing his job well, have to point out mistakes you made, sometimes serious ones. Would that strain your relationship or can you and he both separate professional disagreements from personal relationships. Would it be possible he would hide problems he found so as not to make you look bad? Some people can compartmentalize and some cannot. Putting your friend into an adversarial postion where your work might be criticised can be risky.

Next you have to look at your relationship with your friend. How will he react if you don't recommend him (or will he even know) and how will he react if you recommend him but he doesn't get the job. Is this something that might strain your relationship? Would your friend be better served if you tell him that he needs to get the qualifications for the positions he would like to have rather than get his hopes up recommending him to a job he may not be likely to get? And frankly would he even be interested in this job?

It takes a certain mind-set to do QA and some people would rather slit their throats than do it and others would thrive. Does he even know what this type of job would entail to be able to determine if it would be for him? You may need to think about his personality as well as his technical qualifications before recommending him. It will do your friendship no favors if you end up getting him a new job he hates.

Note I am not saying you should recommend your friend or that you should not. Only you can determine this becasue we don't know him or you or your company and the details of what they actually need. All I am doing is giving you things to consider when making that choice.

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