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The Pros and Cons of Leveraging Personal Contacts to Get a Job

Posted on Oct 13, 2021

We’ve all heard the expressions “never mix business with pleasure” and “don’t go into business with friends”. But what about leveraging friendships to get a new job?

This is a tricky one and it depends on the situation. Let’s look at some of the common positives and negatives.

Pros

1. If you’re genuinely a good fit for the role, it’s a win/win

It’s always a risk, but if you’re well suited to the position and you enjoy it, then it’s a positive outcome for all parties. You’re happy, the company likes you and your friend looks good – everybody wins!

2. Your friend should be able to give you an honest appraisal of the company’s culture

In other words, they’ll be able to tell you whether it’s a good place to work or not. You won’t have to just plunge into a new environment based on educated guesswork.

3. Networking makes the world go round

Let’s face it – if you’re a candidate with a lot of experience in a particular industry, the chances are you probably know people at all the major companies in that field. In other words, it might be difficult to find a business where you don’t know someone.  So you might as well lean into this. If you’ve got a good reputation and you’re interested in a role, it can’t hurt to sound out other people at that company on the nature of the position. In fact, this could save everyone a lot of time.

Cons


1. Organisations might be sceptical of nepotism

Whether consciously or unconsciously, some businesses are suspicious of candidates referred through personal contacts. Your application may be treated differently by HR if they know that it was a friend that recommended you for the role. Then if you’re offered the position, you could find yourself under greater level of scrutiny.

2. Your friend might be too relaxed about the recruitment process

We saw a situation recently in which a candidate approached their hiring manager friend at a company directly with an application. The application stalled for months even though the company wanted to hire the candidate, because the hiring manager felt uncomfortable about driving the process too quickly because of the friendship.

3. If it doesn’t work out, it can strain the friendship

Let’s say your friend refers you for a role and you end up hating it, or the company decides you’re not the right fit. This puts your contact in an awkward position because they stuck their neck out for you and this in turn might negatively affect your friendship

4. They may be financially incentivised to fill roles and this might colour their judgement

Many companies offer financial incentives for filling vacant positions. This can encourage people to think “I know someone that could do that job!” But they might not have properly thought this through.