Is Your Best Friend a Good Hire?

We’ve said it over and over again that being referred to a company by a current employee is the quickest way to get your foot in the door.  The percentage of new hires that come through their current employees’ network is increasing at an unprecedented rate.  At Ernst & Young, 45 percent of non-entry placements now come out of referrals, compared to 28 percent in 2010.   This seems to be a win-win situation for everyone since it ensures that the job seeker gets an interview, cuts recruiting costs for the company, and often means a decent referral bonus for the employee.

However, the situation gets tricky when there’s an open position on your team or in your company and you know someone that would be a great fit.  The only problem is, they’re you’re best friend.  Where do you draw the line between referrals and nepotism in the workplace? While there are a lot of conflicting ideas on the topic, if the situation is right and you can maintain a professional demeanor, it may not be a bad idea to consider a friend for the opening.  Here are a few key things to consider while deciding whether or not hiring a friend is the right decision.

  1. Consider how your relationship will change.
    Regardless of how close you are with your friend, it’s important to remember that hiring them can change the dynamic of your friendship.   Hiring them will bring your friend in to a part of your life that they are usually separated from.  If you hire the friend and they end up not working out, it could reflect poorly on you with your supervisors and other team members.  You need to assess what your working relationship would be like and decide whether it’s worth the risk.  Would they be working directly with you or in a different department? Hiring a friend for a different department is much easier than if there is a different power level and they’ll be reporting to you.  If you’ve never worked with this friend before, your friendship is based on an equal level of respect, which could change in the workplace environment.
  1. Weigh their qualifications.
    If you decide that you’d be able to maintain a good working relationship with your friend, even if you’re required to give them orders, you need to consider their skill set and make sure they’re really qualified for the job at hand.  Even if your friend has pulled you from a burning building, it doesn’t mean that they would make a quality employee.  Since you may carry a biased opinion because they’re your friend, it’s important to have a coworker or other team member take a look at their resume before you recommend them for the job.  Does this person think their skill set is a good match? If your HR department or coworker doesn’t feel like your friend is a qualified applicant, then you should pass on hiring them out of nepotism.
  1. Make sure you maintain professionalism.
    If other managers feel that your friend is qualified for the job, you need to consider one last thing before making the recommendation to hire.  Can you still maintain your current level of professionalism at work if your friend is on the team?  You must be able to put your job and career before your friendship in the professional setting, and you must not treat your friend differently than your other colleagues.  Showing any sign of favoritism towards a friend that you recommended can damage your professional reputation. 

Hiring a friend can be a great decision, but you need to make sure you think it through thoroughly and don’t cross the line of nepotism.  Mixing your personal and professional life can make things very difficult for you on many different levels, but if you’re willing to take the risk, then hiring a friend may be a great opportunity for the both of you.

Need help recruiting employees?  Let your referrals come from the experienced staffing team at Area Temps.  Whether you need to find the ideal candidate for an office position, or match your labor to production needs, we can tailor a staffing solution that works for your company.  Contact us today to talk about custom solutions for your organization.

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