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I was recently contacted by a recruiter. I checked out the company website, and it turns out that I actually know one of their senior staff listed there. He was a fellow grad student at my university (a couple years ahead of me) and briefly collaborated with other people in my research group. We were acquaintances then, and I haven't talked to him since he graduated several years ago.

I did mention this as an aside in the initial call with the recruiter, although I don't think she took note. Regardless, I wouldn't be surprised if it came up during interviews (e.g., "I see on your resume you worked for X doing project Y, did you happen to know Z working on very similar things at the same institution?"). The recruiter thinks I may be a good fit for a more senior role than was initially presented, and is passing my resume to the team for review.

Given that, should I reach out to him personally?

I'm not sure if it would be seen as inappropriate or brown-nosing (since I haven't been in touch for 3-4 years now, and by the time he gets my email the recruiter will have sent on my resume..), but maybe it would be more weird not to say anything? I don't know if he has any particular opinion on my work, although I imagine it is neutral at worst.

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Yes contact him. Say his name is X. You could write something like:

Hi X, this is whrrgarbl. Remember we worked in the same group at University A? I found out you worked at Company B when I was researching for my interview. How do you like it at Company B so far? Do you have some time to catch up and tell me a bit about your experience? Thank you, whrrgarbl

Note: Please change the bolded parts to actual information instead the placeholders I used.

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    Don't forget to use your real name instead of your net ID :D. – Teacher KSHuang May 10 '17 at 10:20
  • Thanks, the example script was really helpful! I was probably overthinking it as usual, but I'm really interested in the job and want to make the best impression possible :) – user812786 May 10 '17 at 14:05
  • Yes please change the bolded parts to actual information versus the placeholders I used. :) I added a note to the answer in case people didn't know to change it. – jcmack May 29 '17 at 17:19
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First, you need to allow the recruiter that is working for you to do his job his way. You need to trust him.

Second, you possibly expose the old friend to inter-office political accusations of playing favorites. You don't know the structure of the company from the inside, therefore don't know what kind of politics are going around. While this may seem like "playing the game" to some, you see post after post on this very site about people asking if their boss is playing favorites, their co-worker is playing favorites, etc. It may even hurt your chances as he might not want an old friendship to affect his standing.

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    You're not asking for favours, you're just asking for information. I've done this dozens of times (and been contacted by people dozens of times), and it's never been suggested that it's inappropriate. – DJClayworth May 10 '17 at 13:55
  • If there is a coworker there that is looking to start trouble for the person (which you cannot know, so always assume there will be) then they have a thing to point to: "You moved to help get .... the job because he reached out to you, and that means you showed favoritism" – SliderBlackrose May 10 '17 at 14:51
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    It doesn't work that way, but comments are too short to explain why. If you want to ask about this, I suggest writing a question. – DJClayworth May 10 '17 at 15:09
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    I'm not asking a question, I'm answering one. You're attempting to answer a non-existent question or debate a point. Please move to chat for that. – SliderBlackrose May 17 '17 at 17:32
  • -1 for the "You need to trust the recruiter" ;) – ypercubeᵀᴹ May 29 '17 at 17:30

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