I wrote an inquiry email to an international company. In the email, I asked if they had some new jobs available.

They were surprised to have received my email, because they had not yet announced any job opening on their web site (I told them that I heard about the job opening from a friend). They wanted to find out who had told me about this, so they asked for my friend's name and also told me to submit my CV.

I am rather concerned about my friend, but I don't want to lose this job opportunity or make the prospective company think I had lied to them if I don't present friend's name.

I have drafted a reply to the company, but I am nervous about if the drafted reply is appropriate and good enough corresponding to this situation.

Updated info: My friend has agreed to help.

  • 23
    Did you ask your friend about whether you could share her name? Did she actually say this?
    – Erik
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 8:26
  • 26
    I'm confused why this would be a bad thing by the way. Maybe I'm too naive, but if my colleagues are so involved and proactive that they can find new people before HR even gets around to posting the vacancy, that sounds pretty awesome. Your friend should be lauded, not fired. (But that's just me, not her company...)
    – Erik
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 12:54
  • 8
    @Erik It depends on the company, really. Maybe there's nothing wrong at all, and they're only asking out of curiosity. Or, maybe the company had reasons to keep the position under wraps, and want to know who let the cat out of the bag because maybe they violated some company rule by doing so.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 14:23
  • 7
    The fact that they asked for a CV probably means they aren't planning on firing the friend. Why would they hire OP if they consider that the way he found out about the opening was illegitimate? It's possible they asked for a CV as a bluff to get OP to out his friend, but, that seems like a small probability.
    – stannius
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 15:52
  • 25
    Some companies offer a bonus to an employee who gives them a lead to someone they end up hiring. Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 17:21

3 Answers 3


First of all, you shouldn't have mentioned your friend. Now you should:

  1. Ask your friend if they are OK with you giving their name.
  2. If they disagree, just tell the company that you cannot disclose the name of your friend without that person consent.

You may lose an opportunity, but it is better than losing a friend or working for a company that puts you in a situation when you have to choose between being loyal to the company or your friend. There is a chance they are just curious or have some referral bonus, but you should always ask if any given person agrees to be mentioned by you in that context.

  • 2
    You are right, DDT. I was wrong to mention my friend in the email. Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 9:31
  • 23
    @DavidWashington Ideally you should have asked your friend if you can refer to her before contacting the company. Generally that should not be much of a problem as the whole point of mentioning open positions to the staff before running them publicly is to get candidates from their networks. Still, your friend might have reasons so proceed as DDT said.
    – Kempeth
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 13:07
  • 2
    "you shouldn't have mentioned your friend" - well, unless the OP should have completely dropped any mention of the internal job posting (which might, in turn, make the application much weaker), that seems barely possible. Even when referring to the job posting without making any statement whatsoever about someone providing access to it (e.g. "As I have read in the job posting with the ID ..., ..."), the fact that the job posting was, at the time, internal, could immediately lead to the question: "Who gave you access to the job posting?" Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 9:32
  • 1
    I would also emphasize that you should ask your friend even if they say they have a referral incentive. Don't just offer their name because you think it will help them. Otherwise that incentive may be a pink slip.
    – zero298
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 16:01
  • 1
    @Kempeth The friend might have learned about the open position through the grapevine, not any kind of internal announcement intended to get candidates.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 16:30

Many companies actually encourage employees to use their personal networks to recruit talent for the company. They might actually want to reward your friend for their initiative.

But just in case, you should still ask your friend if he is OK with you disclosing his name. If he doesn't, just reply to the company with your CV and a note that the friend would like to stay anonymous.

  • 1
    This is what I would interpret as happening here. They have a recruitment bonus scheme and want to make sure your friend gets his bonus. It's pretty common practice because even paying a really good bonus, it still works out a heck of a lot cheaper than using a recruitment agency, plus it's great for morale to have a policy in place like this. Yes, check with your friend first just in case, but if it's anything other than this I'd be really surprised.
    – Simba
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 10:15
  • Aren't referral bonuses usually paid only if the candidate is hired? So they don't need to ask who referred you until much later in the process.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 16:31

I'm confused as to why this is an issue. If a manager or director has gotten approval for an actual opening, its posting (or absence) on the company web site doesn't matter one bit. It's an opening.

Accordingly, the referral source should not be a thing to incur any sort of backlash. OP gave a colleague's name. So what? Do we expect the company to fire someone for sharing an official opening with a potential candidate? A referral is not necessarily a overt recommendation, so how would it reflect badly? There's a bit of overthinking going on here.

If it were shared with recruiters -- who can become a real annoyance -- that'd be a different case.

  • True, it's not like open positions are a form of insider information, which has to be kept confidential until an official release.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 16:32

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