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Is It a Good Idea to Refer Your Social Media ‘Friends’?


So much of our interactions nowadays take place on social media, making it incredibly easy to connect and build relationships with complete strangers with the click of a button. Over time, these virtual connections can morph into actual friendships. But would you feel comfortable referring one of your social media “friends” for a job and risking the possibility of vouching for a complete dud? Here’s how to decide.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner — You’re in luck if the person is actually a winner in the professional world. There are some extremely qualified candidates out there who, unfortunately, lost their jobs due to the crash of the economy and are finding it difficult to land a decent job. In these cases, you’d be doing your social media contact a great service by offering him or her a job referral.

Friend of a Friend — You would be surprised how many “mutual friends” you have with others online. Chances are, the person you’re thinking of referring knows someone that you’re connected with as well. If you have any doubts about the person’s credibility, then you might want to send a private message to the mutual friend to get their opinion on the situation.

Liar, Liar — According to Accu-Screen, it’s estimated that “70 percent of college students surveyed who would lie on a resume to get a job they want.” You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re vouching for someone who isn’t honest from the get-go, because that will only muddy the waters for you, and negatively affect your reputation. It’s one thing to try and do something nice for another person by connecting them with potential employers, but it’s another thing to make yourself look bad by referring someone who really isn’t cut out for the part.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Curiosity Did Not Kill the Cat — Do a bit of research on the person before slapping your name on that referral. You might want to conduct a Google Search on the person’s name, review their LinkedIn profile, and see if you can find anything on their social media profiles that questions their credentials and/or character. As Zora Neale Hurston puts it, “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” Therefore, feel free to poke around so that you’re not the one left unemployed and scouting out for referrals!

Face-to-Face — If you are still unsure of referring your social media friend, meet them in person for a cup of coffee or schedule a video chat for you both to get acquainted. Think of the meeting as a mini-interview for you to base your decision on afterwards. From your one-on-one conversation, you should be able to judge whether or not you’re comfortable enough to vouch for the candidate.

Don’t be afraid to do your due diligence before dishing out the referrals for online friends that you’re unfamiliar with. As mentioned above, many professionals aren’t completely honest on their resumes, so do bit of prying before saying, “Yes.” If the social media friend is being authentic, then he or she will not mind you verifying their credentials. If the person is weary of your meddling, then it’s best to decline the recommendation to spare yourself the embarrassment in the end.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you referred someone from your social media networks? If so, how did it turn out? Share your experience on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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The Cost of a Bad Hire [infographic]

(Photo Credit: thetaxhaven/Flickr)

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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