To Refer or Not to Refer

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To Refer or Not to Refer

About the Author

Laura Machan

Laura Machan

Laura Machan is a Partner, Talent Acquisition Group at Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions based in Toronto, Ontario. Although she has been recruiting for quite a few years, she still gets a big thrill from calling someone to set up an interview and an even bigger thrill when she hears a happy dance as she tells them when their new job starts. Laura lives with her family in Oakville, where she has lived for over 25 years, and is a significant contributor to the Canadian Federation of University Women - Oakville and Women in Nuclear, Golden Horseshoe Chapter.

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One of the first lessons you learn as a recruiter is to ask for referrals. If you are talking with someone and they are not interested or qualified, you should ask if there is anyone they would recommend for the role.

I always thought this made sense. People like to be asked for their opinion and generally, people like to be helpful. I figured it would feel pretty good to help someone discover a new job that they would really like.

But then I listened to a podcast where a software engineer said he felt used when he is asked for referrals. His feeling was the the recruiter was not going to earn a fee from him/his experience and yet he was being asked to provide information that would lead to the recruiter earning a fee from someone else. And in the end, he would get nothing.

I was struck by such strong cynicism. It rolled round in my head for a week and I actually stopped asking people for suggestions.

Now that the dust has settled, here are my observations. He worked as a leader in an industry that is desperately short of talent. He did not say this but I bet he gets called by recruiters every other day. I am sure his patience runs thin with our industry. He is also working in an American company and while I don’t have empirical proof, I bet the attitudes here about helping out are different. Who in Canada would not buy someone a Tim Horton’s double double if they needed it?

What do you think? Is it rude and presumptuous to ask someone for referrals if a job is not right for them?

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