Using friends to find a new job

14 March 2018

Is “networking” to find your next job really a good idea?  Not always.  In fact, usually not!

As you might suppose, we would probably not be addressing this subject if we had not come across several recent instances where a candidate’s job-seeking initiatives involved turning to friends.  When you feel that the time has come to see what new opportunities may exist, your first instinct may be to contact friends in the market; however, before doing so, ask yourself two fundamental questions:

1. Considering that I may be seen as their potential competitor, just how objective and open are my friends likely to be?

It is highly likely that many of your friends have backgrounds and experience similar to your own.  Moreover, professional advancement requires enormous sacrifice, engagement and dedication; it is also important to understand internal workplace dynamics, something that can take years to learn.  Think about it!  How much of that will your friend be prepared to surrender in order to help you get a job at the same place?  Flip the scenario around:  how much would YOU be prepared to surrender to help a friend find a job where you are, only to see him become a competitor and potential barrier to your career progression?  My guess is that you would not be prepared to do that.

2. What if I come to realize that my efforts though friends have been in vain? Can I still turn to a recruiter?

It depends.  What an honest and serious recruiter can do to help you will depend on the extent of the damage resulting from working through friends.

Imagine this scenario:  you have, through friends, contacted a half-dozen firms, including one where your sister’s best friend’s boyfriend happens to work; imagine, further, that for whatever reason you receive no positive feedback or perhaps no feedback at all.  If you then decide to engage the services of a recruiter, you may very well find that those firms have become problematic for the foreseeable future.  It may not have occurred to you that the recruiter, who may be well connected with decision-makers at all or most of those firms, cannot now take steps to represent you to them after you have made another approach.

No matter how good you may be and no matter how much the recruiter may want to help you, the fact is that his or her hands are tied and you are, for all intents and purposes, frozen out of those firms with no real means of recourse.

-- Bruna

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