When Ayush Singh (name changed) heard that his close friend Shikhar Bajpai (name changed) was looking for a job, it was just a matter of seconds before he thought of recommending Bajpai to his workplace.
However, things didn't go well. Singh’s manager often complained about Bajpai’s performance, jeopardising Singh’s reputation at the company. On the other hand, Bajpai thought his friend was meddling too much in the work.
In the end, Bajpai resigned from the job and his friendship with Singh also came to an end. This is not an isolated event. There are multiple examples of people regretting joining a new company. According to Joblist, 42 percent of those who quit their jobs say their new jobs never lived up to expectations and thought of going back to their old jobs.
The takeaway from Singh’s experience is that not every friend should be recommended. Besides, there are certain dos and don'ts while referring a friend and afterwards.
Maybe fight your instincts
HR experts feel helping a friend is an instinct, and many people will do so without thinking about the consequences. “Before making a recommendation, doing your research is the most crucial thing you can do,” says Daya Prakash, Founder of HR firm TalentOnLease.
He suggests candidates learn as much as they can about the recommendation's experience and qualifications by researching the position's requirements, speaking with the hiring manager, and asking questions. “Make sure you are aware of who and why you are recommending.”
One notable instance is when Prakash was asked for a recommendation by several friends who he didn't believe were qualified. Usually, Prakash sends them a handful of courses he likes to recommend. “Let them know that if they finish those, I'll be more relaxed about referring them.”
For instance, he says let's think about that friend of yours who, despite having a few bad habits, has the right qualities. If you do recommend her or him, be sure to give the whole story.
“Keeping quiet about their shortcomings might help them land the job. However, you will only be responsible for yourself if her or his bad habits lead to disappointment or failure in the job,” Prakash adds.
Check what kind of friendship you have
Two friends working together can be a great way to strengthen the relationship, especially if you are ex-colleagues or old friends. On the flip side, Anil Agarwal, CEO & Co-Founder of IaaS firm InCruiter, says this can also turn out to be wrong as much time will be wasted discussing personal matters and all, ultimately wasting ample time.
Therefore, ensure that your friend is understanding and you won’t face such problems while working.
Further, Agarwal advises you to ensure that your friend is honest throughout the CV and has not given any misleading information, as it may also waste the employer’s time and spoil your image in the company.
This can only be done if the friend is known for a few years and you have a strong trusteeship.
Once you have paved a career path for your friend through recommendations, the next step is to act maturely.
“Make sure you don’t uncover any past secrets to the employer based on your present quarrels,” says Agarwal, adding, “Small arguments with friends are inevitable and can be ignored. So, don’t take it personally to break your friend’s credibility before it is even built.”
Remember you are not the HR
After a due diligence, and ensuring that the candidate has a clean track record, the existing employee can refer him to the HR team.
“But the ultimate and final accountability and ownership lie with the hiring manager,” says Amarvijayy Taandur, Principal Advisor, Industrial, at HR firm BYLD Group.
Sometimes, candidates indulge too much with their recommended employee/friend, putting pressure, including on themselves.
“Recommendation doesn’t mean ownership for ethics, values and performance on the part of the person recommending the candidate. It lies with both the candidate and the HR manager,” Taandur says.
In one instance, a recommended candidate was hired after multiple rounds of interviews with different stakeholders, and she went on to hold a senior leadership position in the company after four years.
Another recommended candidate was compromised with regards to ethics and values and had violated the company norms and was finally terminated. This happened within less than one year of hiring.
“Make it clear that transparency and openness are the best way forward. The HR team must be taken into confidence whilst recommending a friend,” says Taandur.
Always check the cultural fit
If the referred person is serious about the job and is aligned with the company's mission, strategy and nature of work, it is a good referral, says Nishigandha Shendge, Lead, People Success (Human Resource) of tech company Fynd.
Every company has a set of values, distinct culture and way of doing things they wish to maintain. Hence, Shendge believes ‘culture fit’ is an important factor to consider for both the recruiter and the candidate.
“The candidate you refer for a job may have a sudden realisation that he/ she may not gel well with the organisation during the interview process. Conversely, the interview panel may also reject the candidate on similar grounds,” she says.
In either scenario, Shendge says it is not the positive outcome that you had hoped. For example, if the referred family/ friend is used to working fixed hours and is referred to a startup, he/ she will have a hard time adjusting to the fast-paced environment there, she adds.
Further, in case these components do not harmonise for the referred individual who is hired, the backlash can affect many areas of work. “It often leads to negative politics, decreasing morale and eventual loss of both employees,” Shendge adds.