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I know someone who performed poorly as an e-board member in our university club. I keep receiving his emails and messages (on LinkedIn, Whatsapp and Facebook) requesting for referral to a job in my company.

Given a choice, I don't want to work with this person. I have already blocked him on Whatsapp and Facebook. What is the best way to avoid him, and say no to his requests?

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    Have you already replied and told him "No", or have you just been ignoring him? – David K Sep 1 '17 at 12:11
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    I agree with David K that the direct approach is probably the best. However, if you're not willing to engage this person at all, you could also block him on linkedin and set up a mail filter to send anything from his email address(es) directly to the trash bin. Just keep blocking him on every social media site he contacts you through, and hope he doesn't know your home address. – Steve-O Sep 1 '17 at 13:45
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I have been pestered with similar job referral requests by an annoying interesting college acquaintance whom I didn't want to work with. I eventually figured out that the trick was not to respond with either no1 or yes, but to give an ambiguous reply to procrastinate the response forever, like this:

I will contact you in case I think I can refer you to a suitable job opening.

He still hounded me a couple of times more, but I was determined to stand my ground, and responded with:

  1. As I said before, I will contact you if I think I can refer you to a suitable job opening.

  2. I think we have talked about this a couple of times, I will contact you if I think I can refer you to a suitable job opening. If I do not contact you, you can assume that there are none. You don't need to ask me every week.

At this point, he either believed me (because I said it politely with a smile) or he "got" the idea, and did not bother me again.

You might be wondering if my response was dishonest, but it was not. I said I would contact him in case "I think I can refer him to a suitable job opening", which was a blatant lie metaphorically true. The common language interpretation of that statement is that I would look for job openings in my company, shortlist any suitable ones that I can refer him to, and contact him then. However, because I didn't want to work with him, I didn't think I could refer him to any suitable job openings. :)


1 I usually respond to unwanted job referral requests with some variant of the "no, sorry" suggested in Lilienthal's answer and that is usually the end of it. This particular acquaintance, however, was a special snowflake, and only changed the form of pestering. He started annoying me with requests like, "No, you don't recognize my potential.", "Let's meet this weekend so that you can better appreciate what I bring to the table.", "Please give me feedback on what you think is missing.", etc.

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To an extent how you answer depends on whether he's looking to use you as a reference, which would be strange, or if he just wants you to get his CV or application to someone in which case he's considered a "referral". The latter doesn't typically include you vouching for him.

I'm sorry but since we never really worked together in an office setting I don't think I should serve as a reference. You can apply for [the position] through the usual channels and I wish you the best of luck.

If you want to make it clearer that his past performance is the real issue you could say something like:

Unfortunately given your poor track record as an e-board member I [couldn't give you a positive reference / don't think you'd be the right fit for the job].

Point to specific issues if you can but be prepared for a very annoying argument to follow. This guy displayed a lack of professionalism in his previous work and in spamming you so he's not likely to react very well to this message. Most people wouldn't bother taking on such a potential hassle and would simply respond neutrally and ignore him.

If you are sure that his past behaviour will be indicative of his performance in a "real" job then you should speak to whoever the hiring manager is for the position he wants to apply for and give him your feedback. But I would hesitate to make that call if all you're basing this on is a university club as most people shape up once they enter the workforce. If he continues spamming you then you should say something though as that's another data point that a hiring manager would want to have.

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Well it sounds like he is not going to take a hint (I think ignoring several messages and blocking him on other sites should have been enough, but...), so I would be blunt. Write back to him and say "based on my previous experience working with you, I do not feel that I can provide a positive referral for you. Good luck in your job search".

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