I have to admit that I’m a hypocrite in this regard. I’ve recommended friends for jobs – smart, well spoken, well presented and generally awesome friends – and it’s worked out fine. My former boss even made mention of this in his farewell speech on my last day. And I’ve also chipped in my two cents of approval in regard to candidates that I did not recommend, but knew a little about nonetheless.
But it doesn’t always work out. I’ve seen this firsthand. Workplace chemistry is a funny thing. Personality clashes can arise and temperaments ill-fitted to the daily tasks at hand make themselves evident.
Yet it’s so much easier when there’s some kind of established connection, no matter how tenuous. That’s why warm leads > cold calls every time. I’d bet managers put more weight on personal recommendations, seeing as they say the majority of jobs are never advertised publicly. You could call it nepotism, as someone I know does, or you could call it human nature or common sense.
Hiring is a long process, recruiting from outside can be expensive, and so it makes sense to tap your networks first. Any edge you can get as a candidate is a huge bonus, hence the importance of staying on contacts’ radar. I have one – let’s call her M – whom I’ve worked with a little, but to be honest, I tend to forget about her entirely in between the rare Facebook status I see from her (she seems to have given up on Twitter and doesn’t do much on LinkedIn, and we’re not close enough to email). Every so often she checks in with me, however – once, just AFTER a job had been filled at my company, and another time, just as a new opportunity had been sent out (in the vein of an all-staff email mentioning the vacancy and welcoming suggestions). Had she not, I’d never have thought of her.
Back to my point. Suggesting friends for jobs: if it goes well, awesome. If it turns sour, it reflects terribly on you. Not to be taken lightly; always err on the side of caution.