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Friend Referral For Jobs

Friend Recommendation: Can I Say No?

This reader posted in our Ask Savvy group, talking about how she doesn't want to recommend a friend for a job at her company. Any suggestions on how she should deal with the situation?

I have a pretty good friend (we've known each other a little over a year) that is on the market for a job. I think she's a great person (charming, funny, etc.), but she has a disastrous work background. She has either been fired or quit almost every job she's had, has no concept of punctuality, and is looking to just "put in time" somewhere. Recently, a position at my company opened up, and of course, she asked me to recommend her. The thing is, as much as I want to — I simply cannot! It would look so bad if she messed up (there is an extremely high chance she would). How do I let her down lightly? What should I say? I don't want to hurt her feelings, but I know she isn't cut out for the position.

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Advah Advah 6 years
I'd tell her you'll pass along her CV and covering letter, but that your company is looking for someone with a very specific profile, with lots of competition, and she might just not fit the requirements. I've had a couple of friends ask me to recommend them (although it was for internships - the job application form has a "where did you hear about this vacancy" question where you can write down it was through a staff member). I did pass along their CV to my coworker, but told him "my friend asked and they're very hard working people OR but tbh, I don't know if they're experienced enough/can't judge if they'd be good for the job." Both times, my colleague took a look at the CV and just said "no, because they need experience in X and Y first" or "we're looking for Z because of that project we're working on". Guess it's different depending on who you work with, but that way I didn't feel guilty and it ended up being useful feedback for my friends. Also, if she's a good friend, she should understand that you can't go see your boss and say "yo, hire my friend, I work for you but know what employee you need."
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 6 years
I'd just make the job sound unappealing to her. You can tell her in imaginative ways that she wouldn't like it anyway. how did she hear about it in the first place?
bisou002 bisou002 6 years
I've been in this position...have her email you her resume, then never send it along. It's like telling a little fib. Tell her you submitted it for the position, but had heard that there were lots of applicants, so then maybe help her look for similar gigs at other companies.
SpencerFran SpencerFran 6 years
That's a toughie. I'd sit down with her and ask her how serious she is about the job/position, and be honest. I know it's corny, but it really is the best policy. Tell her that you are a little uncomfortable recommending her and that you really want to—but you want to her to show/tell/make sure she is serious about it this time!
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