A Distinguished Engineer in my company has recommended me for a position after I informally expressed to them my interests in applying. It is undoubtedly due to their recommendation that I have now been invited to apply.

I have sent a thoughtful "thank you" email. Would a small gift (a card, flowers, or a nice desert) be inappropriate -- or, given the influence they have regarding my employment, even unethical?


  • The chance to apply wouldn't be open without his help.
  • I am early in the application process.
  • I do not report to (or even work with) this engineer.
  • This engineer works in a remote office, but I could probably secure their mailing address.
  • The position would take me from being a part-time student intern to a full-time junior engineer.
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    Then I'd wait until you do have it. At that point you can consider whether a gift would be appropriate.
    – Peter M
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 17:52
  • 2
    No, don't do it! A simple email will suffice. Definitely, do not track down his mailing address. Once you do get the job, and it's been a few weeks, you you can invite him to a steak dinner or something when he's in town, but even then, he'll probably refuse that you pay for his share. At least, that would be the convention in places like the US or Europe. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 18:18
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    You already sent a written "thank you", why do you feel you should do more? Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 18:32

2 Answers 2


Strongly recommend against this.

Nearly everywhere, this sort of thing looks bad to an outside observer. There's not really any way to make it not seem like a conflict of interest in the best case scenario. Worst case causes both of you problems. Many companies have policies around this sort of thing, too.

What I would do is in addition to the thank you you sent, put a reminder on your calendar for around 6 months from now. At that point, write an email to this colleague along the lines of:

  • "Hey! I wanted to give you an update on what I've been up to. I have this position and want to thank you again for recommending me to the position - thanks again! I've loved it so far."

Most senior people appreciate this sort of feedback. A heartfelt thank you now and a followup later are likely to be far more beneficial and meaningful than any gift, anyways.

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    if i get the position, i'll be moving to beautiful new zealand. so i'll send him a picture of me smiling my face off in a kayak or on a hike. thanks for the tip! Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 16:36
  • Definitely wait a few months. You may find your "beautiful" new job is out in the sticks, in an office staffed entirely by no-hopers, and with no interesting projects to work on. But hey, the Distinguished Engineer has already got the credit for finding a sucker who wanted to take it and didn't bother to check out all the facts.
    – alephzero
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 19:08
  • @alephzero that got a LOL but it's also (unfortunately) true in cases. Always keep eyes open for problems too, especially if you're young and enthusiastic.
    – frIT
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 9:53

If you don't have the position yet, then sending more than a simple "thank you" could be perceived as brown-nosing. Don't assume that the person you're thanking is the only one who's going know about it. In competitive work environments - which is real common - people often assume the worst and it's not always a good "look" for you to give gifts. Unfortunately, you have to behave a little defensively.

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