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So a professional acquaintance that I've chatted with briefly only once or twice in the past few years asked me to forward her resume on to a hiring manager at my company. Though we are connected on Linkedin, I really don't know this person that well and frankly, I'm not sure I want to forward it on based on some previous interactions.

When I asked why they wanted to work at my company, they gave a generic response such as "I liked the office at the time I visited." There's also been some other interactions I've had that have made me question whether it would be a positive experience to work with them. What's a polite way to turn them down without burning a bridge / offending them?

I am only talking about passing along a resume, not recommending them. There aren't serious professional issues (that I'm aware of) - and by serious I mean things like "punctuality", etc., but I have never worked with them, so it would be virtually impossible to recommend them from a professional standpoint.

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    Not a duplicate, but this may have some answers that help workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/76797/… – Chris E May 22 '17 at 16:18
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    Are you just talking about forwarding a resume or about recommending someone? Those are two drastically different things but as mentioned in Joe's answer, in most cases simply passing on a resume is fine even if you don't know the person. The only time you'd decline to even do that is when you know a person has serious professional issues. Is that the case here? – Lilienthal May 22 '17 at 18:09
  • @Lilienthal, I'm talking about forwarding a resume along... – Nona May 23 '17 at 14:52
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    What's the problem with it? Just forward it with a note saying x person wants to send in their CV and that you aren't recommending but just forwarding the CV. – Snowlockk May 23 '17 at 15:08
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    If you don't want to "recommend" them, you could just leave it with HR (on the desk or in their mailbox) without saying who it is from... Or just say "I was asked to pass this on" and walk off. If the problem is that you don't want to work with this person and you don't want to pass on their resume and you don't want to lie, there are lots of polite ways to refuse, but none that the person won't take as insulting. And in the end, if they want to apply to your organization, there's nothing you can do about it. All things being equal, it's better not to make enemies. – Francine DeGrood Taylor May 23 '17 at 16:44
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What's a polite way to turn them down without burning a bridge / offending them?

If you are truly set on not forwarding the resume, something like "I'm sorry, but I don't know you well enough to feel comfortable forwarding your resume. I hope you understand. And here's a link to our website where you can apply for yourself [include link here]." would probably work.

That said, I usually take a different approach.

If I know someone professionally, I'm happy to pass along their resume in almost all cases. If I do, I may indicate that I don't actually know this person well, nor am I recommending them, depending on what I think of this person's abilities. I see absolutely no harm in that.

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    +1. I'll go with your latter approach as well, but also tell the applicant I'm afraid I don't know them or their work well enough to give a personal or strong recommendation. Sometimes that allows them to find a more-apt referral, or makes room for us to talk about their skills and fit in ways I can pass along. – Jeff Bowman supports Monica May 22 '17 at 17:35
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    +1 Some companies distinguish between referrals where you know the person and recommend them and referrals where you just pass the resume along. – MDLNI May 22 '17 at 20:15
  • Do you think it would be wrong to pass their resume on and let the hiring manager know that you personally don't think they would be a good fit? – USER_8675309 May 22 '17 at 20:51
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    I worked at one company where the internal referral form had options ranging from "I'd stake my professional reputation on this person being a great hire" to "I have some general reason to believe this person is better than a candidate chosen at random from the resume pile" to "here's a resume that fell into my lap; I don't vouch for this person in any way." It was a good system and gives recruiting or the hiring manager appropriate context for the referral. – Zach Lipton May 23 '17 at 20:23
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    Plus, you never know when they might send a resume for you someday. – corsiKa May 24 '17 at 18:39
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Go ahead and pass it along to the hiring manager, but be honest about what you know. Tell the manager you don't really know this person that well, and your limited interactions with them have made you unsure whether they would be a good fit at the office. However, in the interest of not burning professional bridges, you figured there was no harm in simply passing along the resume. There's a difference between a recommendation and a referral. You are giving the latter, not the former.

Now you can honestly tell your acquaintance that you have indeed passed on the resume to the hiring manager. If they ask you for updates about the job and why they haven't heard, just say truthfully that you are not involved in the hiring process at all and it would be inappropriate for you to inquire further with the hiring manager.

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Be blunt and direct. Tell this person that you don't know her well enough to be able to answer any questions that the hiring manager will likely ask you once he receives it and because of that, it would likely do her more harm than good.

And, as @andieisme said below, offer her/him the email or inform them of the correct way to apply for a position at your company. That way you are still helping and maintaining a professional contact.

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    Also offer her/him the email or inform them of the correct way to apply for a position at your company. – Andieisme May 22 '17 at 16:21
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    Once again, honesty rules the day. Far better than saying you will and then don't. If the acquaintance is smart, he'd use the "rejection" as an opportunity to network a bit and ask what the OP likes about being there, etc – Chris E May 22 '17 at 16:30
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Best:

"It's probably best that I direct you to our Job Openings web page at http://xyz123.com"

Okay:

"It's probably best that I give you HR's e-mail address for that, and you can send your resume along."

This will work, too:

"Let me give you HR's phone number. It is XXX-XXX-XXXX."

Get yourself out of the middle, quick and directly. Do not feel the need to justify why you're taking this approach. Pass on the information, and keep it moving.

EDIT

With all three approaches, a solution is being offered. The solution respects YOUR personal boundaries, AND tactfully steers you clear of any obligation. Call it "protocol". Subsequently to you providing a response, if the person escalates by either bullying, sweet-talking, shaming, or any other sort of manipulation, then you know that this is not a person you need to be dealing with anyhow. Stand your ground, and say, "That's the best I can do for you."

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    Curious @codenoir, you don't think they'll get offended by the suggestion that they speak to HR, since presumably they're coming to me to "get around HR"? – Nona May 22 '17 at 21:48
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    With all three approaches, a solution is being offered. The solution respects YOUR personal boundaries, AND tactfully steers you clear of any obligation. Call it "protocol". Subsequently to you providing a response, if the person escalates by either bullying, sweet-talking, shaming, or any other sort of manipulation, then you know that this is not a person you need to be dealing with anyhow. Stand your ground, and say, "That's the best I can do for you." – Xavier J May 22 '17 at 22:16
  • @Nona If they want to be hired, there is no way to "get around HR". Eventually, they will have to deal with HR anyway. – skymningen May 23 '17 at 8:37
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    @woj That's plain silly. It's HR's job to deal with people seeking work. Why would they be offended? – Xavier J May 23 '17 at 12:20
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    And this is why my answer said to direct the person ONLY to the company site or HR. If i'd meant the hiring manager, I would have written that. – Xavier J May 23 '17 at 12:43
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What's a polite way to turn them down without burning a bridge / offending them?

You can save yourself some grief and just simply provide the necessary information for them to apply themselves.

This way offers the benefit of allowing you can avoid the awkward conversation with an acquaintance that you may never interact with again.

I would also recommend that might want to evaluate your criteria in regards to who you connect with via LinkedIn. ( this way you only have connections to those you would be comfortable recommending, except for recruiters. )

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    Can you clarify what you mean by "drop it on the floor"? I'm not sure if you're saying to throw it in the trash bin or to put it in the normal applicant pool with no recommendation. – David K May 22 '17 at 16:34
  • Throw it in the applicant pool with not recommendation. I will clarify the answer. – Mister Positive May 22 '17 at 16:39
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Forward it on, as asked, but include a private note to your hiring manager or HR person letting them know (at a minimum) that you are only forwarding the resume out of professional courtesy, and that should not be interpreted as an endorsement from you as to their worthiness.

I've actually been asked this by former nightmare employees, and I'll pass it along with a note that essentially says "Burn this and run away!"

  • I once did indeed pass along a CV for an acquaintance, a guy who is clever but rude, impatient and tactless. I have no idea of the quality of his work. It came back to haunt me. My boss came to me and said, shall I employ this guy? And I hummed and hawed. And the boss said, well, would you give him a job, and I just said "no". I will never do this again. – RedSonja May 24 '17 at 7:19
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I don't see the need to burn any bridges here. If the person was asking for a recommendation then your professional image would be on the line and then you would have to think twice but as it is, you could easily with one little email send the person the details of the manager or even just a link to the job posting.

This makes you seem like the helpful one and even if it does happen that the person is not suitable, you are not the bad guy. It is after all not your job to do the hiring. Maybe you are not even able to judge a worthy candidate seeing as there may be mitigating circumstances to this person hiring that you may simply be unaware of.

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I agree with @David-K referral vs recommendation answer. You have been asked to forward a resume to your company, and that's all you are doing. I would argue that it is your duty to forward any resumes to the proper channels, regardless of who asks you. Are you actually qualified to deny this person a job, based on your incomplete knowledge of his/her skill set? Even being unsure about the person's social aptitude is not good reason to pre-deny them (and your company) the chance to contribute.

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I would speak to your Hiring Manager & explain the situation & ask for their advice. Be honest with your own colleague & they will almost certainly give you a good way forward - whether this helps or hinders your contact.

With that in mind I'd tell your contact that you are going to speak to the Hiring Manager or HR department about how best to get their resume on the desk & that the Hiring Manager will be in touch.

The Hiring Manager will know how to politely decline your contact without involving you if that is the right thing to do.

I think that your instincts on this are correct - never recommend anyone who you aren't sure about, it rarely works.

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