I started "working" at 16 - my first non-babysitting job was as a part-time holiday sales associate at a clothing store called Bootlegger. It started then, and continues to this very day. "It" being the inevitable moment when a friend asks for a hookup. Back then, the hookup was usually access to my employee discount, but as I've gotten older, it's become access to the job itself.
As the economy declines, more and more people are looking for a way in to a job or career. With more focus being placed on networking and the meme of "it's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know," it's only natural that networking will begin in your very circle. So, what happens when a friend inquires about a job at your place of employment, and you know deep down that it wouldn't be a good fit?
In a previous life, I was a corporate trainer for a medical tourism company. We had a referral incentive, where if you referred someone to the company who made it past their 3 month probation, you would receive a bonus on your paycheque. A young woman took advantage of this incentive, and our company ended up hiring a family friend of hers. I'm honestly not sure how this woman made it through the interview process, but I can tell you she didn't make it through her probationary period. Swearing in the office, lying to her boss, refusing to do work, and not showing up for her shift were just a few of antics she pulled before getting axed. But through it all, who was it that suffered the most? The employee who referred her.
Why did she suffer? For one, she was continually caught in the middle between her friend and her job. Her friend would loudly bitch and complain about their boss, expecting her to cosign, and getting upset when she wouldn't. When her friend didn't show up for work on time, the boss would question her about the friends' whereabouts. And as this woman got more and more ridiculous, all of the executives looked at her thinking, "Why would she refer this woman? And what kind of people does she associate herself with???" Whether it was fair or not, she was judged based off of the fact that she was the one to bring this woman into our company...and she felt the effects (personal and career-wise) of that decision long after her friend was escorted out of the building upon termination.
We all want to help our friends. No one likes to see a friend struggle, but should your homie come to you looking for job help, please be smart about it. If it goes all wrong, not only will your friend likely be humiliated and back out on their ass looking for a new job, but your work reputation may be affected in a way that you might never recover from. If your friend wouldn't be a good fit for your company (or vice versa), explain why. If your friend is dead set on working there, a good option might be to try to groom them and help them to develop the skills that they'll need to be successful. At the very least, always use whatever career skills you have (resume writing, mock interviewing, etc.) to help your homegirl/boy get where they want to be job-wise.
For the times when I've actually gone ahead and referred friends, I've made sure that as few people as possible know our connection. Too many assumptions get made if too many people are aware, so I choose to limit that as much as I can. I also let my friend know that at work, at least for the beginning phase, we're coworkers, not friends. Acting too familiar in the workplace leads to the impression that neither one of you will be able to work efficiently together. All in all, remember that your friend is a reflection of you. If your referral becomes one of your company's top performers, that's a major win for you. However, if your referral acts anything like the woman I mentioned above, your decision-making skills will be questioned, to say the least.
There's doing someone a favour, and then there's helping someone to better themselves. Hooking a friend up with a job with no proper research or discussion is doing them a favour. Helping your friend to know what they're getting into, preparing them for the environment, or just being honest if something wouldn't be right for them is helping them to be and do better. Which one would you prefer?
What do y'all think? Have you ever referred a friend to your job? Did it turn out well, or did you end up regretting it?