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I had my friend interview for a professional role on my team (software engineer II) - he didn't quite meet the expectations during the interview. Later, it was announced that we're going to start trying to fill SE-I positions instead.

I brought it up that my friend is still super interested, even if it's a more junior role than he originally applied for. I was told by my manager that he'd definitely prefer to hire someone I know than someone straight out of uni.

After not hearing back for a bit, I asked if there were any updates on potentially offering my friend who'd interviewed before an SE-I role. The response I got was along the lines of I'm forced to only hire new grads because of tax breaks and stuff. My hands are tied, sorry

I'm not trying to call into question my manager's character - I'm just wondering if this is true, or if it's something he's been fed from above, with no real merit?

tl;dr are there tax breaks or other benefits to an employer in the U.S. for hiring new university grads over an experienced worker? Or am I being given the runaround because management doesn't want to just tell me they didn't want to hire my friend for reasons x-y-z, whatever they may be.

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Tax breaks?

This seems dubious at best. Many hiring managers will not have a full understanding to this sort of detail in the first place because for most positions, they don't have to care. Someone else in the company handles this.

However, it would be tricky to fully know the answer to this question. It will vary based on state and city agreements. Companies often get tax breaks which can be very unique and it's entirely possible something exists which is specific between your company and some governmental entity.

Is this why your friend won't be reinterviewed?

What is more likely though is that your manager doesn't want to hire your friend. It's difficult to ever determine, "I really want to hire you, just not for this position" from an interview. Your manager made the decision, "no, I do not want to hire you" already. There may be internal policies in place preventing this too.

I'd suggest reading through this article, specifically around this section:

At the end of the interview, you must be prepared to make a sharp decision about the candidate. There are only two possible outcomes to this decision: Hire or No Hire. There is no other possible answer. Never say, “Hire, but not for my team.” This is rude and implies that the candidate is not smart enough to work with you, but maybe he’s smart enough for those losers over in that other team. If you find yourself tempted to say “Hire, but not in my team,” simply translate that mechanically to “No Hire” and you’ll be OK.

While not exactly the same it is very related to what you are suggesting.

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There was a tax break for hiring workers who were previously unemployed.

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Two-New-Tax-Benefits-Aid-Employers-Who-Hire-and-Retain-Unemployed-Workers

But I'm fairly certain that expired in 2010.

Also, Oklahoma did give state tax breaks for aerospace businesses hiring recent college graduates. If you aren't in that area you might look at your local (state) tax laws - it's possible that something else might apply.

More information: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2012/rpt/2012-R-0533.htm Bear in mind that that web page is from 2012. You'll want to find something a little more recent.

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    It's also possible that the state (or city or other taxing entity) negotiated a deal with a particular company to build a particular plant in a particular location that involved reducing some taxes in return for the company agreeing to create a certain number of new jobs. It's possible that the wording in that agreement gives preference to hiring new graduates to ensure that the new company didn't just come in, hire away people already employed by some other company causing the competitor to fold leading to no net new jobs. – Justin Cave May 8 '15 at 22:36
  • @JustinCave: Very true. – NotMe May 8 '15 at 22:39
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There may not be a federal tax incentive, but states and cities offer incentives all the time to attract businesses to their area. Often the incentives are tax-based. Some incentives may be targeted toward getting new grads into desirable industries.

It is impossible to know for sure what incentives are in place at your location without knowing what country/state/county/city you're in.

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