Have you ever had a friend ask you for a recommendation to a job that you figure deep down inside, he/she is just not going to be able to handle?
Or had a friend ask you to hook him/her up with another friend of yours, while you know that they just aren’t going to be compatible.
What do you do when this happens?
On the one hand, you owe it to your friend to give him/her whatever help and chances you can give. Friends help each other – it’s the basic rule of friendship.
Furthermore, in the relationship scenario, you can hazard a pretty accurate guess as to what the result will be, but you will never know for sure because people are stupid when it comes to love, romance, and sex. Even if the pairing seems incredibly unlikely to you, they could actually hit it off anyway.
I mean, it’s like the Twilight movies: any producer with taste would’ve read the script and declared it an unbearably boring piece of shit, but the guy that went ahead and bankrolled it is now one rich sonofabitch (and the world suffers for his rewards).
I guess the optimal result would go something like this: You go ahead and hook the two friends up, and immediately after (or during) the first date, they realize that this is a bad idea, and write each other off.
But what if it doesn’t happen that way? What if the first friend can’t handle rejection, and continually stalks and hassles your other friend?
Or what if things do go well for a while… but then things turn into an emotional nightmare later on? You have two friends that cannot be situated in the same area without detonating an emotional nuke, and not only do your friends have to tiptoe around this situation when it comes to making plans, but both parties blame you for not having the foresight to avert such a disastrous result.
It’s no different with job recommendations. If you recommend the wrong person for the job and this person eventually screws up on a major scale, not only will you have destroyed your reputation and credibility and thus no longer be taken seriously when a suitable candidate does come along… but it might potentially damage your future job applications too. Who in their right mind would want to hire a person with such lousy judgement?
So what do you do? I think in an ideal world, you just go ahead and make the recommendation. You should leave it totally to the other friend (or hiring manager) to decide for themselves. Should they make a mistake, they will be mature and responsible enough to own that mistake and not blame you for being the middle person.
But that’s an ideal world, and sadly we don’t live in a world like that (see the Twilight example above).
How about not making the recommendation at all? Then you’re deemed a judgmental self-righteous asshole who thinks you’re better than your friends. That’s probably going to be the result, because while that friend is prepared to get rejected by the other friend or company, they probably won’t be prepared to be rejected by you too.
If you’ve read this far and were expecting some kind solution or nugget of wisdom, this is probably your first time reading my blog. All I can offer is this: like arguments with your wife, you just can’t win.
PS Speaking of recommendations… what’s with those people on LinkedIn who bug you for recommendations, and when you write them one, they don’t bother to take 5 mins to write you one in return? I know all about giving and not expecting anything in return and I accept that, but these people are going to find horse heads in their beds if they ever ask Don Corleone for a LinkedIn recommendation.