how to (politely) discourage friends from applying to work at my company by Alison Green on July 24, 2013 A reader writes: I’m a recruiter at a tech company — one of those cool internet startups that everyone wants to work at. Of course, along with that comes very high hiring standards. We have a very specific profile that we look for, and our interview process is extremely competitive. In the past two years, I’ve had multiple friends (or friends of friends) either ask about jobs at my company or apply for a position. Most of the time, I know they’ll likely not be a fit, either due to experience level or cultural fit. When they ask about jobs, I’ll let them know what positions we have open, tell them it’s highly competitive, and let them apply. However, it feels disingenuous to let friends apply (and put all the effort into applying for a role), which I’m pretty sure they’ll be rejected. And of course, when a friend’s rejected from my company, it’s pretty awkward. For some more context, I’m talking about entry-level, non-technical roles in communications or admin roles. So positions that have a very high volume of applications, but roles we still have high standards for. Any suggestions on how to gently discourage a friend from applying for a job at my company? I wouldn’t make it your mission to discourage them per se, but rather to arm them with information that will help them make a better-informed decision. So for instance, you might tell them that it’s very competitive (as you’ve been doing), but also that the company is looking for people with a background in X or experience in Y. If they don’t have those things, that’s a clear message that their chances aren’t going to be strong … and from there, it’s up to them if they decide to apply anyway. It’s harder, of course, when the issue is a culture fit one — that’s harder to explain to people, but depending on the specifics, you could describe the sort of culture fit that the company is looking for, and let them draw their own conclusions from there. I would not, however, make it your job to dissuade people from applying. That’s likely to create a weird, condescending dynamic with your friends, and it also might be doing them a disservice — because it’s possible that one or two of them might be closer to the profile of what your company is looking for than you realize. After all, few of us are intimately familiar with all our friends’ professional personas, and it’s possible that some of yours could surprise you. So arm them with information, but leave what they do with it up to them. You may also like:I’m on a company’s do-not-hire listhow to hire when you know an applicant personallyshould you apply to a job if the ad is horribly written?