Some time ago I recommended my friend to company. I sent his CV to the Human Resources department. After couple of interviews he was accepted. Now I'm about to receive bonus, let's say 1000$, for that successful recommendation.

My question is - should I share that bonus with him?

I'm leaning towards sharing that bonus with him. However some of my friends didn't do that with their bonuses. Is there some unwritten rule for that?

  • 2
    So, you helped him getting a job and now you want to pay him for it? Well, that's awfully nice if you, but personally, I don't see the need for it. Jun 25, 2017 at 16:26
  • 5
    This is entirely up to you. Take him out for a few beers
    – Ed Heal
    Jun 25, 2017 at 16:27
  • This would be totally inappropriate. You don't do that. It would give the impression that "something is fishy".
    – Fattie
    Jun 25, 2017 at 17:30
  • Just BTW I surely hope the "1000 bucks" is just an illustrative example, because that is spectacularly low.
    – Fattie
    Jun 25, 2017 at 17:33
  • 2
    I absolutely agree that sharing isn't really appropriate but there really isn't anything that could be fishy about it. It's not done amongst regular colleagues but I could definitely see close friends deciding to share this bonus and there's nothing untoward about that.
    – Lilienthal
    Jun 25, 2017 at 22:04

6 Answers 6


My question is - should I share that bonus with him ?

No. He got the job, you get the bonus.

Companies provide referral bonuses so that good professionals will recommend their company to their friends and so that other good professionals can be hired.

And presumably you told your friend about the job, he was interested, and ultimately hired.

Your friend gets a good job at a good company. You get a bonus.


My question is - should I share that bonus with him ?

No. Not at all. Referral bonuses are common in a lot of industries because they're advantageous for all parties involved. The company finds interesting candidates and saves on the recruiter fees. Candidates are put in touch with good employers and have someone on the inside to get a better sense of the culture and their fit1 And you get a nice bonus for your trouble and for using your network.

There is absolutely zero expectation that you share this referral bonus! Referral bonuses are a standard business practice and it is indeed an unwritten rule that these bonuses are not expected to be shared. That is not to say that there aren't people who share, but that's usually a sign of a much closer friendship than is normal for referrals who are usually more like acquaintances. The problem with sharing is that you're talking about a very significant amount of money which is way, way above the threshold for appropriate gifts between (former) colleagues.

Compare it to winning a modest lottery. If you wouldn't share that with this person, there's no reason to share your bonus. I recently contacted a former colleague when I wanted to apply with his company just so he could get the referral bonus. All he did was take a few phone calls so I could ask some questions from an insider but he's still earned that bonus and I would feel very uncomfortable if he offered to share it. That's just not really done.

As Alison Green said, taking this person out for a meal would be a great idea:

No one here needs to treat anyone. You did your employer a favor by helping to connect them with a good employee; it wasn’t an act of charity toward your friend, so she doesn’t need to treat you. And your employer gave you a finder’s fee because they want good referrals; you’re not obligated to share the cash. That said, if you’d like to take your friend out to celebrate — totally separate from the referral bonus — by all means do!

1 - Not to be confused with bypassing the hiring process which is unethical!


Think of this from the other person's shoes - if they'd found a position that they thought was a good fit for you, and recommended you apply to it, would you then expect them to pay you some amount of money that they received as a recommendation bonus?

Of course, it would be a very generous thing to split a bonus like this, and if the only reason you two were doing this was for the bonus then it would make sense, but I'd say there's very likely no expectation that you give this other person money that was paid to you for referring him - as other answers have noted.


I don't think there's any specific, social "right or wrong" answer here. In my experience, however - it's not generally customary to "split" it. Your friend should be happy they got a job.

Personally, the couple of times I've had a bonus I've used a small portion of it to buy some celebration drinks for myself and my friend but treated the rest as any other workplace bonus. You wouldn't split your performance bonus with your team, would you?

  • Some company C hires a junior programmer P for $180,000. The recruitment company R get the usual 30%, $60,000. Incredibly, R then gives C what can only be called a "kick-back of some type" being $22,000. This would be spectacularly outside the norm of ethics and standards. I'm surprised others haven't answered "no, of course not!" :O Maybe it's a jurisdictional thing or something. For example, Dan, I would even be concerned about the "round of drinks", you know?
    – Fattie
    Jun 25, 2017 at 17:33
  • 1
    I agree w/ @Fattie , I've seen / heard of many cases of two people sharing bonuses for things like referring someone to something minor, like switching cell phone carriers, but I've never personally known of anyone who's done this with an employer referral bonus. I mean, it's something that I could see happening, but I really wouldn't expect / understand it in most cases. At that point you're digging into the area of 'compensation' which is really something that's best left unknown between friends
    – schizoid04
    Jun 25, 2017 at 18:03
  • @Fattie: Wouldn't it be R giving P the $22,000? Jun 25, 2017 at 21:13
  • Sorry, correct that's what I meant OR.
    – Fattie
    Jun 25, 2017 at 21:41

There is no requirement to. You recommended him, he got the job. Unless you made a side deal with him, you aren't required to share it with him. Now if for some reason your personal code makes you feel like you do, its your money. Do what you want with it. I wouldn't split it 50/50 though- you're paying taxes on it. Figure 1/3 to you, 1/3 to him, 1/3 to taxes if you're going to do it.


It depends. If you have made an arrangement you would share - then share. Otherwise, you are not obliged to do it. You saved him from searching for a job, so you deserve some gratification.

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