submit your own resume — don’t have a friend “help” you

I recently received this email (identifying details removed/changed):

My name is __ and I am helping a friend of mine find a new position as is he is a recent graduate. His name is John and he is looking for a position whereby he can work within a nonprofit setting. He recently graduated from __ with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. He is open to entry level positions and is available to interview immediately. Feel free to contact him directly if you have an interest in speaking with him. Thanks!

To be clear, I don’t know the sender of the email.

Curious, I wrote back to the sender and asked what his relationship was to John’s job search. He replied:

He recently relocated to the area so I told him I would help him with his job search.

This. is. such. a. bad. idea.

Think about it: This reflects badly on John. He can’t even conduct his own job search? It’s one thing for the friend to send John an ad and suggest he apply for it; that happens all the time. But then John needs to be the one putting the effort into reaching out to the employer. Since he didn’t, I’m left wondering why. Is he lazy? Is this email really from a mother/girlfriend trying to run his job search for him? (That happens.)

Plus, as I’ve written before, employers want to know you’re interested in this job in particular, not just any job. This guy doesn’t even know about the existence of the job. Yes, it’s true that I’ll sometimes approach non-applicants myself who I think might be good for the job, but those are people whose credentials are so strong that it makes sense for me to try to recruit them. This rarely applies to recent grads without work experience.

Don’t do this to your friends.

As a side note, this is totally different from forwarding someone’s resume to a personal contact of yours — someone you actually know — and saying, “Hey Joe, this good friend of mine might be perfect for your opening. He’s applying through your normal channels but I wanted to tell you I think he’d be a great fit for you guys because ____.” That’s networking, as opposed to making your friend look lazy/uninterested.

{ 10 comments… read them below }

  1. Travis*

    Excellent advice, AAM. Thank you for differentiating between anonymously recommending someone and genuine networking.

    Here's a question I was hoping to get some discussion on: if you apply for a position, is it acceptable for someone that you know to forward your resume on to the hiring manager that they don't know but your contact wants to get your resume in front of said hiring manager because they genuinely believe in your abilities? In my opinion, I wouldn't say you're necessarily being "lazy" regarding your search but are making use of your personal network. Am I off base? Anyone have any thoughts? Thanks!

  2. Travis*

    Sorry if I didn't make myself clear and thank you very much for replying. From what I understood in the original post 1)the person who sent it to you was a friend of John's; 2)he/she couldn't speak to John's qualifications because there was no specific position for which John was applying; and 3)you had no idea who the person who emailed you was since he/she was not a personal contact of yours.

    So let's say this: if I had a career in the field of woodworking and applied for a job in your woodworking shop and a friend of mine with a long-time career in woodworking (who you didn't know) emailed you to tell you how great a woodworker I am and would be an asset to your shop, would you say "hey, I should check this guy out!" or say "what the heck? Can't this guy do his own job search??"

    I hope this make sense. I know that I was playing with a lot of pronouns in my last post. Thank you!

  3. Ask a Manager*

    Travis, it could mean something depending on the credentials of the person writing. For instance, if they were very well known in their field and had a great reputation, that might carry some weight. But if they were just a random stranger, unknown to me by reputation as well as personally, and weren't able to make a case for why their recommendation should carry weight with me, then it wouldn't.

    Really, you should pretty much always submit your own resume unless the person submitting it for you is a personal contact of the person it's going to.

  4. Katherine*

    Ok, now I'm a little concerned. My old boss emailed me and let me know of a position I may be interested at in his current company, and asked for my resume to forward on. I'm thinking (hoping!) this is ok, I only know my old boss professionally, so I sent on the resume.

  5. Ask a Manager*

    Katherine, this is the opposite of what we're talking about here. We're talking about having a stranger forward your resume; your boss is not a stranger at his own company!

  6. resume service*

    I agree that if a person really wants a job, they need to put the effort in themselves. Not only will the emplyer be more impressed with their efforts to want the job, but it will make the employee feel more accomplished when he/she gets the job that they want and have been looking for.

  7. Lani*

    Travis, it might seem more legitimate to have your woodworking-careered friend as a reference on your resume or write a letter of recommendation rather than write your application for you.

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