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There has probably been a time or two when you ended up encouraging a friend to apply for a job at your company. Out of the kindness of your heart, you passed along resume after resume trying to help. But have you ever regretted referring a friend for a job? Today, career experts J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten share their advice on dealing with a referral you regret...


Dear J.T. and Dale,

I encouraged my friend – let’s call her “Tina” -- to apply for a job at my company. She did, and then started emailing me every other day asking if I'd heard anything.

I went to HR to check. They said Tina wasn't qualified. Now, I have to go back to her. She's going as me a million questions. I regret ever starting.

- Blake

What should you do in this situation? Is there an easy way out? First, let’s understand where your friend is coming from at this point in his or her career. In most cases, he or she probably lost a job and is in a tough situation. Even though the opportunity didn’t work out at your company, there’s no reason to regret trying to help her out. “You never, never regret helping a friend, particularly in a time of need,” said Dauten. “.... This is a time to help the friend and put up with the annoying inquiries.” When it comes to your friend not getting the job, think about it this way. You offered to help her get introduced, which is extremely generous. However, it’s not up to you to get the job for her. You can’t do that. It’s up to her to get the job on her own. You did everything you could. You got the information, you passed it along, you even went down to HR and got an update. “What I would do is go back to Tina and be really honest,” said O’Donnell. “Say, ‘Here’s the situation. Here’s the feedback I got from HR. I have no other information. They didn’t disclose why you weren’t qualified. I can’t get you that information. There’s nothing else I can do.’” In the future, set some ground rules for yourself. Give the people you’re trying to help some expectations. Make it clear that you can only pass along the information and that there’s nothing else you can really do to help them move forward. Tell them that you’re more than happy to help them out but it’s up to them to pursue the opportunity after you’ve done your part. Referring a friend for a job doesn't have to create an awkward or annoying situation. When you set these expectations up front, it lowers the chance of your friends pestering you each day asking for an update you can’t give them. Want to ask J.T. & Dale a question? Email your question to advice@jtanddale.com.

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