It's been nine months since I joined my current(first) job as a software/web developer. I have been very happy with the company and the work I did. It is a small company but I learned a lot from them, and the people are good. Soon, it'll be a year since starting this job, and good as the company might be, the time will come to switch jobs.

My family is currently looking in their own circles for people who might be interested in hiring me. Normally, I wouldn't have any problem with that, but they(the family members) don't work in the field in which I work. Sometimes people come and say "Hey, I/someone I know work/s at Company A, and I would like to have a look at cst1992's résumé. Why don't you tell him to send me a copy, and I'll see what I can do."

Yay! A new prospective employer! Problem is, I don't think that such "I know a guy who knows a guy" is going to help me much, simply because it's so random. There's just not that flow to it, no process, just "some guy came out of the blue and asked for my résumé". Plus, it makes me uneasy to see them looking for jobs for me, which is obviously something I should be doing. Plus, I don't really know much about the company that I might be called to for an interview.

How much help do these "recommendations" provide when my résumé will go under the eye of the hiring manager of Company A? Or any company, for that matter, provided I am not in the wrong field entirely?

  • 37
    ". . good as the company might be, the time will come to switch jobs." Is there a reason besides time that you are looking? If you leave after 1~ year after being hired a few times, you may be labeled as a job-hopper in most industries. May 19, 2016 at 20:16
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    @cst1992 - I agree with Robert Dundon - if you are still gaining skills and insights, and the money and conditions are good enough, then stay where you are for now. Those big horizons will still be there in another year or two. Changing jobs simply because you've been there a year is a terrible motivation.
    – HorusKol
    May 19, 2016 at 22:44
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    @cst1992 I know a year feels like a lot when you're starting your career, but that's really hardly enough time to become truly proficient in your technical tasks, much less learn to navigate the organizational chart and work with other teams. Exploring different companies will help preserve your "malleability," but (especially as you grow older) you also need some degree of specialization in order to be attractive to other companies, and specialization is difficult to achieve if you change jobs too fast.
    – Pedro
    May 19, 2016 at 22:53
  • 3
    I can say that having only a year at a company is something that I would ask about in an interview, and I would want a good answer. I may not get one, but I would still ask, and it would "count against you" if I got a vague or poor reason.
    – coteyr
    May 20, 2016 at 0:13
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    @Agent_L I've learned a lot, but certainly not everything they have to teach me.
    – cst1992
    May 20, 2016 at 10:05

8 Answers 8


Personally I avoid those types of recommendations. I've had my mother tell people that her son is a developer and suddenly they get the bright idea that their cousin has a company, or their neighbor is a manager, and maybe they can recommend me.

I always tell them the same thing:

"Thank you for your concern, but I am very happy with my job".

And yet they always continue pushing ... "omg, but it's a great company, you should totally give it a try, what do you have to lose?!?" I nod and smile, but don't pursue those "opportunities", because they are not typically worth the hassle.

First of all, those people (the cousin, or neighbor) might be getting your resume in much the same way as you were pushed to apply: aka even though they didn't ask for it. If this person feels that they are being pushed to interview you it might actually start you off in a worse situation than if you had walked in off the street.

Second, if this person is your mother's best friend's cousin you may feel that the situation restrains you in some ways. For example, say he offers you a bad wage. How much should you negotiate? What will your mother's friend think if you refuse? Will she think you're being ungrateful, or maybe even entitled/greedy? Or what if you take the job, then realize that the company is not quite as great as it was made out to be?

I'm not saying you should take the job out of concern for other people's feelings, but do you really want to deal with any of that potential fallout?

This is why you should always be careful when you accept that people recommend you for a job. In most professional environments, however, all a recommendation might do is get you an interview.

  • What if the company is not 'personal' but one of the established companies, with say 1000 or 5000 employees?
    – cst1992
    May 19, 2016 at 20:25
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    @cst1992 - that's where that last sentence comes in. In most professional environment a recommendation will only get you an interview, nothing more. However, similar to the other examples, once you are hired as someone's recommendation your performance might reflect on that person. We've had questions asked here where someone was hired because he was a manager's friend, and then realized he hated his job! He wanted to quit, but was afraid it would look really bad for his manager friend. It's always a tricky situation.
    – AndreiROM
    May 19, 2016 at 20:28
  • So I should shy away from these? I really hate this kind of politics.
    – cst1992
    May 19, 2016 at 20:29
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    @cst1992 - as Mel puts it in his answer, when you create this sort of codependency between you and another person you're putting stress on the relationship. For example, say that your best friend gets you a job at a company. If you think that job/company sucks, would you feel comfortable telling that to your friend who made an effort to get you that job? I've seen relationships ruined from much less. Personally, I would stay away from those sort of situations. However, sometimes a friend can open the door to a truly amazing opportunity, in which case you may want to go for it.
    – AndreiROM
    May 19, 2016 at 20:33
  • 1
    @cst1992 - for example, if your friend is getting your resume in front of a hiring manager for Microsoft, you should probably take the opportunity. But the working for the mother's friend's cousin? Probably a pass.
    – AndreiROM
    May 19, 2016 at 20:36

As a rule of thumb, in the hiring process, if someone you trust refers some person to you, it means that (at least most of the time) they are willing put their relationship with you, under stress. Because, if you turn out to be a "dud" employee, the relationship will be damaged. Therefore, the hiring managers consider referrals at a higher plane than a randomly submitted resume. Having said that, your busy body uncle or aunt pestering someone to refer you to company A and the person doing this as a favor to them or just to get rid of them, is not the same thing of course. I am not sure what your exact situation is. Hence I don't have a limb to go on.

If people referring you, are referring you out of knowing that you really are a good fit for a job, it is great news. But if they are referring you to someone a favor, watch out. It may come back to bite you in the heiney, especially if you are not a good fit for the position. If this is the case, explain this to the hiring manager from the get go and tell the person that, you are here to do a favor to your favorite uncle and gracefully exit. It will make you look good to the employer, because you did not steal his or her time with a BS interview, And if something more in the lines of what you do comes along, you will be called without needing the uncle, because they know you are honest and you are respectful.

  • I have a hunch it's not because "I am a really good fit for a job". Since I so far have only nine months of experience with one company, there will be few companies with positions where I'd be a very good fit. Rather, at this stage, I'll have to adapt to the positions they have open which show potential for me.
    – cst1992
    May 19, 2016 at 20:31
  • @cst1992 You'd be surprised how much of a difference 9 months of initial experience can be. The companies willing to hire someone with no experience is a much smaller pool than those willing to hire someone with "some" experience.
    – user17163
    May 20, 2016 at 19:16

I take all references with a grain of salt, because I've seen some where the person barely knew the guy, in some cases has never met the person. It also depends where you are, third World references are often not worth the paper they're written on.

But a reference from a professional that I know does carry some weight, because like me, they don't write references willy nilly.

All in all though, a reference gets your foot in the door, that's all.

  • +1 for pointing out that the only recommendation that counts is the one that comes from someone the manager already trusts.
    – Kent A.
    May 20, 2016 at 5:15

I often do investigate these opportunities.

I start by asking why he links me to the company.

Even if I am still convinced the person missed the point on my ambitions or the job content, I might try to get an interview, for instance to identify other opportunities in the company. The enthusiasm of the intermediary is a good excuse to go for an interview in spite of an incomplete match.

Whether you went for an interview or not, always give feedback to the intermediary. Name what matched and what did not. It helps him or her to be more selective and motivates to stay alert.

And last but not least, these leads might inspire to broaden your own search or even consider a career switch.

But keep your own objectives in mind.

Dare to say no after an interview and dare to explain a relative or friend he got it wrong, but do this politely and constructively. You can say "No", but say add the "thanks".


Using your network is part of job hunting. Using your network is OK, but it behooves you to use everyone's time efficiently and make sure the folks who are networking on your behalf are as educated as possible of both what you are qualified for and what you are interested in. I realize that this early in your career, you are not particularly specialized in your skills or experience, but even that is something to make clear to your family - it's probably premature, for example, for to be labeled a "senior". And there's a big difference between a software developer, a QA engineer, and an IT admin - even if all three could be described as "working in computers". The basics you take for granted could be totally surprising to someone who's never done your job. You're going to have to explain in simple terms so they understand.

It's also fair to ask your family to send you a message if they give your resume out, ask them to give you the company, the name of the individual they gave it to, and what specifics of the position were. They should at least know that much before giving your resume away.

Some of this depends on the family, too. I've gotten good references from my family. My mother circulated the resume that got me my first job - and I was hired by someone who had never met her, because it passed through many hands on the way to my eventual boss. But then my mother is in a very similar career. I've also turned down options brought to me by personal contacts, because they were a poor fit - and no harm done.

But I can see that half of this is pondering what you think the family reaction will be -- and only you can know your family.

  • 1
    With less than a year of work experience under one's belt, it's probably premature to be labelled anything but "junior". (Not necessarily a bad thing. We all start somewhere.)
    – user
    May 20, 2016 at 8:02
  • My first job is also similar to yours. I came to know about this company from my distant relatives. I was lucky and it turned out well, but I wouldn't want to go with this for every time I look for a job, for reasons that it could go awry if the fit's not right.
    – cst1992
    May 20, 2016 at 12:36

This type of recommendation would probably be better termed as an introduction. It will get your resume, and possibly you, as a candidate, in front of a hiring manager, but that's all. In some cases, that's actually pretty valuable, in some cases, it's pretty meaningless. Once you or your resume are actually in front of the hiring manager, this kind of recommendation won't do much, if it does anything at all.

You should consider that as well - job interviews ought to be a two-way thing. The employer is determining whether or not to make you a job offer, but you should also be evaluating the employer to determine whether you want to work for them or not. This is not just introducing you to a potential employer, it's also introducing a potential employer to you.

As to feeling uneasy about this, don't. Knowing a guy who knows a guy is the way the vast majority of hiring (and for that matter, the world in general) actually works. When done well, hiring someone for a job is a mutually beneficial arrangement, so in providing this introduction/recommendation, the people in your network are helping you out, but are also helping out the person they're introducing/recommending you to as well. Once you get more job experience in your career field and develop a larger professional circle, you'll be a part of that too. You'll know both people who are looking for jobs, and people who are looking to hire ... why wouldn't you want to help both out by arranging an introduction?


One benefit to a recommendation is that it shows someone trusts you and that they feel you are a responsible human being.

This might not reflect your job related abilities, this can be valuable to know throughout the interview process. It allows a hiring manager to think, "people thought cst1992 is trustworthy/responsible enough to tell me."

However it is more impactful when made by people who do not have inherent biases. Having a professional reputation impacted by the quality of the recommendation results in more trust (ie previous coworkers, managers, etc). Unfortunately, parents are likely to fall into the category of no professional impact and significant inherent biases.

Keep in mind people like to feel important, too. Helping someone get a job can help with this and is perhaps why your parents are so eager to help you find a job.

  • Keep in mind people like to feel important, too. Helping someone get a job can help with this and is perhaps why your parents are so eager to help you find a job. Indeed that seems to be the reason. But I sometimes feel like saying 'Thanks, but no thanks. I want to hunt for my own job'.
    – cst1992
    May 20, 2016 at 5:32

A manager will look for a variety of qualifications. Some are narrowly technical. An university degree or a training certification tells something, and so does a relatively short interview. Can the candidate design a simple object model with three or four classes? Did she use Spring Boot in a production environment or was it just a "hello world"?

Other qualifications are more personal. Things like work ethics. The ability to deal with a stressful deadline in a professional way. The ability to deal work with co-workers even if you don't particularly like them.

For that, a recommendation from somebody who knows the character of the candidate and who is known and trusted by the hiring manager can be very useful.

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