my friend won’t stop complaining about the candidates I’ve referred to her

A reader writes:

I wanted your thoughts about a situation involving a friend of mine. We used to work together in the same department of the same company; I left a few years ago and no longer work at the company at all, while she was promoted to director. Outside of work, we have stayed friends and have dinner once a month or so.

Recently, I began teaching university in our field, and my friend asked if any of my students might be good prospective hires for the department. The department is looking to hire about a dozen people, so I made email introductions to a few recent graduates with master’s degrees who are looking for work. These are good and reliable students — not people I know super, super closely, but certainly capable and accomplished. (Nobody drew my concern as graduate students; they were all punctual, capable, respectful, and did well in the program.) I left her with the emails, thinking that my involvement was basically finished — she would hire them or wouldn’t; up to her.

Over the last six weeks, she has repeatedly been texting and emailing me listing what she believes to be their flaws and failings. One referral answered the phone in a way she felt was disrespectful, and another was not effusive enough about how exciting her company was. She continues to send me more and more details about why they aren’t good for the roles, or why she does not like their professional conduct. I have basically said, “Thank you for taking the time to meet with them. Sorry to hear they weren’t a fit, I appreciate you giving it a shot.” I am trying not to get bogged down in individual issues she has with the referrals, partly because it feels inappropriate, but mostly because she doesn’t like anyone.

I woke up this morning to a blistering email about how much time she had “wasted” preparing one of my referrals who didn’t apply to the formal posting before it closed. I don’t know what she wants me to do — chase him down for an apology or a thank-you? I’m feeling pretty annoyed and very put off. Obviously, I have a lesson learned — don’t do any kind of referrals to this friend in future.

What I’m curious about is: as someone providing a soft referral, how much scrutiny should I have put on these candidates? Am I expected to do significant vetting? Basically, should I have known better, or is my friend just being unreasonable (as I suspect?)

Your friend is being unreasonable, as well as kind of a jerk.

If she doesn’t like your referrals, so be it! Not every referral will be a match. If she decides that your referrals in general are bad matches and that you don’t understand what she’s looking for, she has two choices: She can clarify what she’s looking for so that you know, or she can simply ignore your referrals and move on.

Instead, she’s acting as if you’ve somehow wronged her and need to be scolded about whatever she doesn’t like about the people you’ve referred. That’s bizarre.

It would be one thing for her to say, “Ted doesn’t have the background in X we need but I appreciate you connecting us” or “I’d be cautious about referring Jane in the future because she pooped in our potted plant after her interview.” That’s useful for you to know so you can refine the referrals you make in the future. But simply cataloguing each person’s weaknesses — particularly with this level of nit-pickiness? No. You were doing her a favor; she shouldn’t be acting like you owed her something better.

And that blistering email about “wasting” her time? That’s way over any reasonable line.

To answer your question: No, you are not expected to do significant vetting when you refer someone. The important piece on your end is to be clear about the limits of your knowledge — for example, “I can only speak to Jane’s skills from the perspective of her professor and not as someone who has observed her professionally. But from what I know of her in class, she is reliable, skilled at X and Y, and talented at making complex topics easy to understand.” But even if you neglect to do that — even if your recommendation is more like “hire her, she’d be perfect!” — any competent hiring manager knows that outside referrers will never be as familiar as they are with their hiring needs, and even the most highly recommended candidate should still be rigorously evaluated.

At this point I’d be inclined to say to this friend, “I referred students who I thought might be good matches, but I of course haven’t screened them to the degree that you’ll need to and you may indeed find they’re not what you’re looking for. If you’re not finding the referrals useful, please ignore any that still remain. My intent certainly wasn’t to waste your time or theirs.”

{ 216 comments… read them below }

  1. Certaintroublemaker*

    I’d be so, so tempted to end with, “If you’re not finding the referrals useful, please ignore any that still remain. My intent certainly wasn’t to waste their time.”

      1. Marthooh*

        Tempting, yes, but I think Alison’s wording (“to waste your time or theirs”) is just exactly the right amount of plausibly deniable shade.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          yes, but that was Certaintroublemaker’s point about it being tempting … not that it was a good idea really. And it fits the username!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I love this!
      I also am a fan of a good old fashioned freeze-out, especially when the person is likely expecting a response. I certainly would not refer anyone to her (for the candidate’s sake), nor would I refer her to / be referral for her on any future jobs she might be interested in.
      Good thing she showed you show she is and let you know you should keep your distance.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yep. At this point I’d stop referring students and hint more strongly that the rest should be ignored more for the students’ sake than to preserve the (probably waning) friendship.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Is the friend perhaps the person who wrote to Alison asking how to write up an interviewer for wasting his/her time?
        Um, no. You don’t work there. You can’t get an employee written up.”

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Agreed. This could be something they think is normal. Alison talks about internalizing toxic/dysfunctional/bad job interviews, experiences, jobs. OP would be helping if s/he tells them that this is not normal
          – they should not go to an interview expecting to be interrogated and criticized,
          – they should decide if it is not worth continuing or even applying,
          – their interviewers won’t send reports/poor work notices to to their references

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      That and I’d kill for referrals to candidates in this market! Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.

    4. Red Sky*

      “If you’re not finding the referrals useful, please ignore any that still remain. My intent certainly wasn’t to waste their time or mine.”

    5. Darsynia*

      Yeah I totally understand where Alison is coming from when it comes to phrasing it professionally but the end sentence feels like a jumping off point for this jerk friend to bemoan the time that’s been wasted now that OP has ‘confirmed’ that they were time wasters.

  2. mimi*

    I’m wondering how Jane treated those students, or if she was only rude behind their backs.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I’m pretty sure we know why the student who she spent time prepping did not apply!
      I think OP should contact the students she referred and apologize to them as Jane reacted unexpectedly to the referrals from the OP.

      1. Kay*

        This is what came to my mind. If she was behaving so strangely to the LW its not a stretch to think there had to be things she was doing that were also turning candidates off. I would ever refer people to her again no matter what, but I would also be curious to hear what the perspective was from the students’ perspective.

    2. Petty Betty*

      That is my concern, too. I’d be asking the students how things went, with the (not so subtle) subtext that I won’t be referring anyone else to Jane since Jane has really strange and exacting standards that will be a waste of time for pretty much all involved.

      I mean, exactly what is Jane looking for at this point? It sounds like they need to be groveling for not only the job, but so far up Jane’s keister that Jane can smell their shampoo from the inside. PLUS their actual qualifications.
      Jane has become a bad manager since LW left that company.

    3. Et*

      We can’t be rude to the student to their face. Like any kind of customer service role, it is a NO. So, like all roles, we only have the option of bitching to someone else. Before you say education is not customer service, the response is that it is much worse.

    4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      ummm, there is a reason that student did not apply by the deadline, I am sure of that!

  3. Wendy*

    Pfft, unless you’re getting some sort of referral bonus, just send out the job description to your network and be done with it. She clearly doesn’t appreciate your hard work and help to make these introduction so why continue them?

    1. Lydia*

      It’s also unlikely that NONE of them could possibly work out. Jane is a jerk and probably a nightmare to work for.

      1. EmmaPoet*

        Oh, it’s likely none of them would work out when they realized they’d be dealing with Jane. And by “work out” I mean “fled on their donkeys at godspeed when they grasped what kind of mess they’d be in.”

        1. They Called Me Skeletor*

          I read that as fled on their monkeys, and I was suddenly reminded that I want to Squadron a flying monkeys so badly.

      2. Dennis Feinstein*

        It’s curious though because OP worked with Jane and obviously didn’t observe her jerkiness then + they’ve maintained their friendship. So what’s happened to Jane? It’d be interesting to know.

        1. quill*

          Jane is probably only a jerk to people who are significantly less senior than her. Sounds like she thinks she’s above OP now.

    2. Ashloo*

      I think OP has enough information about Friend to not want to subject anyone in her network to whatever abuse and absurdity she’s surely throwing at her staff. She can’t be pleasant to actually work for either.

    3. Move it move it*

      I absolutely would not send out the job description to my network, knowing that the friend is a jerk who is almost certainly a terrible boss.

  4. soontoberetired*

    I think letter writers friend has issues. Not respectful enough answering the phone?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      unless they answered with ‘what, dammit?” or something – doubtful that is what happened though.

      1. PayRaven*

        and even then, these days, if it’s a cold call, it’s 50% to be someone warning me about my car’s extended warranty.

          1. Lab Boss*

            And since they announced that THEIR call was to be the final courtesy, I’m free to issue a reply that is entirely devoid of it.

      2. Rain's Small Hands*

        And even if they did – I’ve done that with my kids after the fourth phone call in five minutes when I’m busy doing something else. Sometimes you think you know who is on the phone and it turns out to be someone else – and your greeting is less than fully appropriate for the person it turns out to be.

        1. Captain Swan*

          OH goodness yes.
          Long ago my husband was looking for a new job and I recommended him to a manager who worked on another line of the business but had an office down the hall from me. Manager wanted to interview my husband and called him. Unbeknownst to either husband or me, the caller ID just showed the office main line not the extension when my husband answered the phone. So as you may have guessed, husband answered with something like “Hey, Sweetie, what’s up” thinking the caller was me. The hiring manager, husband, and I all had a good laugh about it. Husband did get the interview but decided the job wasn’t quite right for him. Husband never again assumed it was me calling his work number, just in case.

        2. Esprit de l'escalier*

          I have theoretically learned this lesson too, and yet when the caller ID says “Lucille Ball” I grab the phone and go “Hi Lucy!” and it’s Desi Arnaz on Lucy’s phone. That’s his bad, not mine, but it is still embarrassing.

          1. Random Bystander*

            I never go by the caller id .. and I always find myself a little off-step at first when people I call greet me by my name when they say hello before I’ve said a word. It’s like they’re stealing my line! (I grew up in the era before caller id, so I was taught to respond when the call was answered with “Hello, this is [my name],” with what followed depending on the particular circumstances of who I was calling and why.

      3. aiya*

        when I left grad school and started interviewing for jobs in 2017, I had no idea what phone etiquette was. I was a straight A student and was polite to everyone I met, but I just never held a job where I had to be on the phone in a professional setting. During my first few phone interviews after graduation, I would pick up by saying “hello?” rather than “Hi, this is [my name].” I learned quickly how to properly greet someone over the phone, but it definitely took time before I felt remotely comfortable speaking on the phone within a professional setting, since I spent the majority of my young adult years without speaking on the phone much in general.

        But even if a candidate is awkward on the phone, that’s not a good evaluator of the candidate’s abilities/experience (unless the job is 90% phone based).

        1. BubbleTea*

          I answer the phone with “hello” except at work where I have a specific greeting I’ve developed. If I don’t know precisely who is calling, I’m not giving my name in case they’re scammers and try to use it to get more info about me.

          1. Womanaroundtown*

            Same. I think I once read or heard something about how scammers can record your name when you answer and use it for other stuff, and I have absolutely no idea if that’s possible (or why they would need you to pick up, since your voicemail presumably also has your name), but it has stuck in my head as a bizarre paranoia ever since. I only say hello.

        2. Just Another Zebra*

          If someone is calling my personal phone, I still answer with a basic “hello”. Unknown numbers are assumed to be scams of some kind until proven otherwise.

          1. quill*

            This. Also, whoever keeps calling me about someone else’s magazine subscription, despite the two million times I’ve said that this is not his phone number… may every snack you bite into this year be inexplicably and prematurely stale.

        3. ThatGirl*

          Eh, I see no problem with “hello?” if you don’t know exactly who’s calling and it’s a personal call (eg you’re not at a workplace answering phones).

          1. Eye roll*

            Even at work, unless it’s from an outside line, they’re only getting “hello,” at best.

        4. Anon Supervisor*

          There’s nothing unprofessional about answering your personal phone with “Hello?” Nothing wrong with saying your name either, though. OP’s friend is a weirdo.

          1. Move it move it*

            I answer my phone “Penelope here” (not my real name) and the response from anyone who doesn’t know me well is always “May I speak with Penelope?”

        5. NotAnotherManager!*

          There’s nothing wrong with answering the phone, “Hello?” if it’s delivered in a neutral to friendly tone. You’re under no obligation to proactively identify yourself to a random caller you don’t know.

          I only identify myself when answering my work phone. No one’s ever complained. I am old and cell phones weren’t a thing until my early 20s, too.

        6. Seaside Gal*

          The organization I currently work for hires a lot of recent college grads. I admit that I cringe when I hear them answer the phone for the first couple of months. But they get up to speed quickly. Something like that is easily taught/modeled. If their other skills are there, phone skills can be picked up without too much of an issue.

        1. Sally*

          When I get frustrated with too many calls in a row, I usually yell “What?!?!” at the phone as it’s ringing, not at the actual person on the other end. My housemate laughs, and I feel better, and THEN I answer the phone politely.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Right? Jane can take a long walk off a short pier, as far as I’m concerned.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Yeeeeah . . . this one.

        Sorry, but when someone starts complaining that they’re basically not being worshipped enough, things have officially gone into the weeds. I’m sure the grad students weren’t absolutely perfect but I think we can be satisfied that they were not wholly (perhaps not even primarily?) at fault here.

    2. Van Wilder*

      Sounds to me like she’s frustrated at her job, doesn’t have enough support, and is taking it out on these candidates and on her friend.

      I know when I’m tempted to complain about junior staff at my job, I have to remind myself that if they’re not meeting expectations, I probably didn’t give them enough explanation. What I’m really frustrated about is my own workload and lack of resources in general.

    3. Kacihall*

      I have had someone answer the phone with ‘go away, you are interrupting me having s*x’. I was calling to verify information so we could process a background check for employment. Presumably they were expecting a call about their job search/offer.

      Their loss. We only sent future notices to their email.

      1. zinzarin*

        Why oh why did they even answer the phone?
        Are people not aware that their phone can take messages for them when they’re too busy to answer? Like–for example–when they’re in the middle of an intimate act?

      2. mlem*

        I would almost wonder if that was the person’s “friend” grabbing the phone away for a “funny” prank. And possibly the phone’s owner being so horrified when he checked the log that he didn’t know how to fix it. (Probably not the case, but … not the time for multitasking, friend!)

        1. Lydia*

          That is the kind of thing I would have done as a very young person in my 18 to 19 year old years.

        2. Lab Boss*

          It wouldn’t surprise me. A “friend” once torpedoed a brand-new romantic relationship of mine by responding to one of her texts with “cool. So when do we have sex?” She had no interest in hearing any explanation from me on the subject. He was a professional engineer in his late 30’s at the time, and still hasn’t admitted it wasn’t a fun hilarious prank.

          1. Ellie*

            I can see that… you hang out with a massive jerk. If it was a brand-new relationship I’d likely walk away too.

            Are you still friends with him? It might happen again.

    4. Nanani*

      I kind of wonder if Friend thinks new grads these days just dont want to work (eyeroll)

    5. philmar*

      I answer my phone in Italian since moving to Italy, which is “pronto” and I can see how someone English-speaking could think it’s rude. They would be wrong, but I can understand it. Of course, that shouldn’t torpedo a whole interview.

  5. Jora Malli*

    I think this may call for a bigger picture conversation with the friend along the lines of, “It seems like you and I have different ideas about what a successful candidate for X job looks like, so in the future I’d rather you didn’t ask me to refer potential candidates.”

    1. Important Moi*

      I am a big fan of stating what I can control,

      “It seems like you and I have different ideas about what a successful candidate for X job looks like, so I won’t be referring candidates to you.”

      1. Caliente*

        A. Heck yes and B. I don’t believe I’d even have conversation about it. When/if she asked for more I’d just pleasantly say, Oh gee I don’t have anyone who fits the bill!
        As a very helpful and pleasant person, if you’re going to make it hard and also be rude to me when trying to help you then No. Protect yourself for this bs.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Perhaps something about how there is a misunderstanding of OP’s referral — OP is not Jane’s corporate recruiter and is not vetting candidates or deciding how much training they would need for a particular role.

  6. Richard Hershberger*

    “Thank you for taking the time to meet with them. Sorry to hear they weren’t a fit, I appreciate you giving it a shot.”

    This is excellent language. Use it. Every single time. Without alteration. This is my strategy for dealing with people who want something from me that I can’t or won’t give them, but who keep coming back. In person, I carefully use the exact same words spoken in the exact same intonation. The idea is that eventually, even the slowest will realize that this is all they are going to get from me, so they wander off.

    Also, “another was not effusive enough about how exciting her company was.” You are doing your students a favor if you never ever again send one to her.

    1. Heidi*

      That last one was also the most off-putting to me also. The OP cannot be expected to coach them on being effusive. I’d be so tempted to write, “You’re being such an unbelievable jerk about this. I would never want anyone I like to have to work for you.” However, if the OP doesn’t want to do that, they could say, “It seems like there’s a mismatch in expectations here. Since these are not the types of candidates you’re looking for, I will refrain from referring more. Good luck.”

      1. Lab Boss*

        That really depends how close of a friend this person is- LW says this is a “dinner once a month or so” former coworker friend. I probably wouldn’t invest the energy in that argument, just chalk it up as a lesson to never provide references. Now if this was a CLOSE friend? Oh yeah, we’d be having words about what a jerk they were being.

        1. Reality.Bites*

          I think the former coworker’s rudeness is a “dinner once a month or” ending event. LW did the polite, “sorry it didn’t work out” and awoke to a blistering email.

          Ball is in the friend’s court. They can come to their senses on their own and apologize, or not. LW doesn’t need to do anything anymore.

    2. BEC*

      I wouldn’t say the last part about LW appreciating her friend giving them a shot. LW was doing the friend a favor by referring people as the friend asked her to do. The friend wasn’t doing LW a favor by interviewing them. I’m concerned this would come across as apologetic when it isn’t warranted.

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        Agreed. If the OP had asked Jane “Hey, I have some students who might be a fit for your company, can you consider them?” then the “I appreciate” language would be appropriate.

        As is, Jane is the one who asked for help, so the OP is good with just “Thank you for taking the time to meet with them. Sorry to hear they weren’t a fit.”

        1. BEC*

          Given the friend’s attitude, I wouldn’t even be inclined to thank her. Just “it’s unfortunate that they didn’t work out/weren’t a good fit, good luck filling the position” and leave it at that.

          1. Lydia*

            This. Jane didn’t “give them a shot” at all, really. LW did Jane a favor and Jane turned into a jerk about it. If anything, the students gave Jane a shot and Jane failed.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        This! The friend ASKED the OP to refer some folks and this is how she’s treating everyone? I know I posted this above, but this is an incredibly tight job market and I would be thrilled to get referrals like this!

      3. Ellis Bell*

        I don’t think that part is meant to be a realistic description, it’s just a pleasantry.

    3. Ellie*

      Yes that line got me as well – just what level of enthusiasm was she expecting from these highly capable masters students? In the current economic climate, they’re probably fielding multiple offers. Her expectations are out of wack.

      Personally, I think your boiler plate line is too kind for her. I’d change it to, “I’m sorry to hear that none of my graduate students were suitable. I’ve never known them to be unprofessional while they were studying here. It sounds like your requirements for the role are quite different to what I was imaging, so I won’t waste any more time by sending through more recommendations. Thanks!”

      Stay polite but let her know she’s burning a bridge with you as well. And yes, don’t send her anyone else, recommendations work both ways and she could be tarnishing your reputation as well.

  7. CatCat*

    I woke up this morning to a blistering email about how much time she had “wasted” preparing one of my referrals who didn’t apply to the formal posting before it closed.

    Pretty sure everyone who read this letter understands why he didn’t apply.

    1. Venus*

      I was thinking the same thing! The students likely all talk to each other, and at some point would have figured out that it was a bad prospect. I’ll be surprised if anyone wants to apply to that red flag show.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I do wonder what OP would find looking Jane up for _current_ Glassdoor reviews. Former employer may have changed, driving Jane’s odd behavior. Or it may just be Jane who changed.

        1. coffee*

          Possibly her behaviour has changed because the emotional stakes are quite different from “being a manager who gets their salary” vs “owning the company, a risky and time-consuming endeavour”.

          Like of course the students weren’t as effusive as she is about a company they have only just heard about. They’re not even getting paid at this point. (And have dodged a bullet, as many people have already pointed out.)

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Where does it say Jane is the company owner? I only see “Director” in the original letter.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I read the letter and knew I had to check comments.
      This is the cherry on top.

  8. Lilo*

    Honestly based on her comments, I wouldn’t refer people to her because I think this place had some extremely whacky expectations for employees. Lots of red flags here that this will be a bad place to work.

    1. Eye roll*

      I’m not sure it’s “this place,” and more likely “that ‘friend.'” Not effusive ENOUGH? Disrespectful answering the phone? Really? And then she wants her “friend” to respond to a play-by-play of her complaints? I think the problem is right there, whether or not the workplace is otherwise normal.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Friend, you don’t ever have to worry about me referring anyone ever again.”

  9. Saint Dorothy Mantooth*

    I feel like this friend lives for drama. The nitpicking is a feature, not a bug.

  10. Lattes are for lovers*

    This is bringing me flashbacks of a work friend I tried to help out long ago. We had hired a caterer to cater a work event and they were fantastic – punctual, food was delicious, everyone raved about the food, etc.

    Work friend decides to have a family party and asks me if Ive worked with any caterers recently that I liked. (I did some event planning for my job at the time.) I gave her the contact info for the caterer and left it at that.

    Fast forward to the day of the family party – I was in attendance. The caterer did a great job and the food looked and tasted good IMO. A family member came over to my work friend and complained about the food. This person is the type that just cannot be pleased, no matter what and continued to gripe so much that she started causing a scene.

    My work friend comes rushing over to me, demanding to know why I suggested the caterer and ripped me a new one. I told her firmly that I didnt experience any issues when I hired them.

    Work friend pouted for the rest of the party and afterwards demanded a refund from the caterer. I was so embarrassed and felt truly awful for the caterer, who didnt do a thing wrong.

    It was then I learned never, ever to give catering recommendations to people.

    1. David*

      Based on the way you told this story, I’d say the better lesson is to never give any recommendation to that friend!

    2. irene adler*

      This is why I am extremely reluctant to give recommendations. I have some outstanding service providers (vet, groomer, mechanic, bakery, etc.) that I’ve used for decades. Will not go elsewhere.

      The last thing I want is for them to endure a bad experience because I referred someone to them. You never know if things might turn crazy like this.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Me too. I have an amazing massage therapist. Referred a friend, who proceeded to try to wheedle a discount out of him. I was mortified. Will never refer that friend to anyone.Ever.Again.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I feel like it would have been appropriate to stand up for the caterer a bit there – not just that you didn’t experience any problems with them when you used them but you were there and actually witnessed the event.
      “I don’t understand the issue? They were on time, the hot food is hot, the cold food is cold, everything I ate was delicious, and the people I was eating with also enjoyed their meals. You know your Aunt Karen will complain that the water in the lake is too wet so why are you listening to her?”

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah, this would have been my exasperation line well and truly crossed: “In my opinion, they’re marvellous and it was my opinion you asked for. If you wanted Aunt Karen’s opinion, use her caterer.” Still, there are some people who won’t be helped even when you give it to them straight.

  11. anonymous73*

    I would simply answer her email with “You asked for referrals and I provided them to you. What happens after that is out of my hands. I don’t need a lecture and I won’t be sending you anymore referrals.” She doesn’t sound like much of a friend, and if she gets pissed about that kind of response, you’re better off without someone like her in your life. She asked for your help…she doesn’t get to berate you for not giving her specifically what she needs.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      I wouldn’t even say that much. Something like “Thanks for letting me know” is enough, just to indicate that OP has received the message.

      If OP says they won’t be sending any more referrals, that sets Jane up to argue with her: “Oh, but I didn’t mean it THAT way, I definitely want your referrals, please don’t stop sending them, you’re the best refer-er I’ve ever met and I couldn’t possibly do this without you!” …and OP is still engaged in the conversation. I would just say thank you, block or filter Jane’s emails, and move on.

      1. BEC*

        I’m a fan of saying something once (if emotional and physical safety/power dynamics allow it) so that the person doesn’t come away thinking I agree with them. Then I drop it.

        1. Lydia*

          Yeah, I would be loathe to let Jane walk away thinking I agreed that any of these students were as awful as she was presenting them. I admit it is an ego thing for me, but it’s also incredibly unfair to the students who were recommended. I would want to at least make a stab at correcting Jane.

          1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

            it’s also incredibly unfair to the students who were recommended. I would want to at least make a stab at correcting Jane.

            THIS. Stand up for yourself and the students you sent her way, LW!

  12. bluephone*

    “Instead, she’s acting as if you’ve somehow wronged her and need to be scolded about whatever she doesn’t like about the people you’ve referred. That’s bizarre.”

    Ugh, been there, done that–not with candidate referrals but other situations. I don’t get people who act like that, it’s exhausting.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, lots of anger toward OP and where is this coming from? I might have to step back from the friendship if it were me. It almost feels like there is some personal contempt for OP buried in this somewhere.

      It will be interesting to see if she goes to lunch again with you, OP.

    2. Gracely*

      They like the drama, or they enjoy feeling aggrieved and being able to complain about it. It boggles the mind, but there are definitely people out there like that. LW needs to just never bother referring anyone to this person again.

  13. Anonym*

    This reminds me of a program I worked on years ago that would have funneled a certain set of candidates toward our recruiting function. It was a win-win for everyone, and we were happy to set up the pipeline. But the initial response from the recruiting head (now retired) was, “Sounds ok, but can you also vet the candidates for us?”

    No. No, we cannot. We are *not* HR, much less recruiters. We know nothing about candidate vetting. We just work with a qualified population who are interested in working at this organization, and can help connect them. You don’t *want* us vetting your candidates!!

    Anyway, OP’s friend seems to be much further along the scale of “maybe this person will do my job for me” than my long ago recruiting head was, and she was already way off base (I think it was wishful thinking in that case). Good instincts, OP!

    1. Petty Betty*

      You’re not wrong here. It really sounds like Jane wanted a lot more hand-holding in terms of vetting, but at the same time, wasn’t specific about what she was looking for.

      I think Jane is looking for a group of unicorn employees. She’s not going to find them.

  14. CoffeeFail*

    My guess is that she thought she was doing you a favor by potentially hooking up students from your school with employment but she really misread the situation and treated your like a recruiter or something. I might invite her to dinner to clear the air and discuss the mismatched expectations.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      The last thing I would want is to be trapped for an entire meal with Jane!

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Yeah, I would definitely not invite her to dinner! Unless OP really needs to preserve the relationship with Jane for some reason, I would just ignore her from now on.

        1. CoffeeFail*

          Fair point. It said they would get dinner once a month before Jane made it weird. I assumed LW would want to keep the dinners going but maybe not now!

    2. TiredImmigrant*

      She’s expecting too much even if OP were a recruiter, to be honest. I used to recruit accountants and I once fired a client who acted like this. The commission on the job was not going to be worth anywhere near the amount of work he demanded because he “just didn’t click”—ever—with the candidates I sent over.

    3. Nanani*

      Probably a good plan.
      I’d have a hard time saying anything more constructive than “I DONT WORK FOR YOU” though, honestly.

  15. Elizabeth Bennet*

    I get the impression she wanted you to do her job for her – review candidates, vet them for qualifications, interview them and then refer them so all she has to do is light work and hire them.

      1. Migraine Month*

        Don’t be ridiculous, she’s doing LW a favor by even considering her students, right? Just like her company would be doing the students a favor by allowing them to work at it, and that’s why they shouldn’t have to pay the students a living wage. Really, the students should pay the company for the opportunity for “exposure”!


  16. Trek*

    OP you may want to reach out to a few of the students you referred and ask them for feedback on the process. It would be interesting to find out their take on the whole process including their interaction with your friend and the company. It could be eye opening.

    1. Van Wilder*

      Yeah I think that’s a good idea. And give you a chance to say (in a professional way) that you’ve since realized your friend is coo coo pants and distance yourself a little.

    2. Tabby Baltimore*

      And the other reason why doing this would be a good idea is it will give LW an opportunity to help the students understand that their interview experiences with her friend don’t necessarily reflect most interview norms (e.g., LW could point out to them what her friend did that *was* within norms, and what behaviors she displayed that were unproductive or unprofessional) and that her friend’s expectations (at least as far as LW could tell) were not reasonable.
      In other words, LW can help them recognize ALL the red flags in this situation, not just some of them, so the students will know to recognize them, and avoid them, in future employer interactions/interviews.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh I disagree. Somebody who supervises grad students should be very open to helping them find post-university employment. They are semi-colleagues, and you’re also demonstrating what networking is.

      The fact that OP’s friend is a tool does not invalidate the concept.

    2. CoveredinBees*

      I agree with Alton Brown’s Evil Twin. In this case, I’d stick to sharing the listing for this company with the students and say she’s happy to talk to them about the company (if she has the time/energy). This director friend sounds ridiculous but if she’s not involved in the employee’s day to day, it might be worth navigating around her for the job.

  17. Yvette*

    Any chance ‘friend’ is in a position to get a bonus for anyone hired? And is annoyed at missing out on the bonus? Not that exuses her behavior in the slightest, in fact it makes it worse!

    1. Rowan*

      I doubt this is likely, given that she’s the hiring manager for the role. Most (all?) organizations exclude the hiring manager from getting a referral bonus for a role, because of the obvious conflict of interest. Some orgs also exclude all management from being eligible for any hiring bonus for any role (only individual contributors are eligible).

  18. CoveredinBees*

    “effusive enough about how exciting her company was” Madam, I hate to break it to you, but people work at jobs for money. Yes, they can do exciting things but demanding a specific level of effusive is ridiculous unless you’re hiring someone for marketing/PR type role.

    I will say this in particular rubbed me the wrong way especially because I’m not especially effusive. Partially by nature and partially by growing up partially in a different culture. What I try to convey as enthusiasm doesn’t always come across that way in the US but trying to ratchet it up often ends up awkward because it is forced.

    1. Lydia*

      And what does it even mean to be effusive enough? I can be upbeat and excited about something with people I know well, and I can express sincere interest in something my boss wants me to do, but the only time I’m effusive about something, it’s probably because I’m suffering some hypoglycemia!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I suspect it means the student actually asked about the budgeted salary, employee-cost of benefits, PTO/covid/remote-work policy, or offices vs cubicles — and was less excited about the company because of the Jane’s response.

  19. voyager1*

    Okay so I have read this letter. Two things.

    1. Did the students know they were referred? Just referring someone without telling them is pretty silly.
    2. Assuming they knew they were referred, a student not filling out a application after a instructor gave them a recommendation is pretty bad reflection of the student.

    1. Two Dog Night*

      1. LW said she “made email introductions.” Sounds like the students knew what was happening.

      2. If the student who didn’t apply had talked to other students and knew what a loon the HM is, I don’t blame them at all for not applying. Why put yourself through that for no reason?

    2. Lydia*

      #2 No, it’s not. It’s not a bad reflection on the student to realize the job (or company) is not a match for them and not apply. Referring someone is not a promise of anything; it’s an opportunity for a student to find out more about the role and the hiring manager to learn more about a candidate and for them to pursue it if there’s mutual interest.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        I wish more college professors understood what you’re saying here Lydia. Sadly, my experience has indicated that many of them, once involved in your job search through referrals like this, do have a “I did this for you, and you should be grateful no how terrible-bad the company or interviewer behaved. Don’t you know you’re damaging my reputation by not showing how grateful you are to me and my network, you graceless brat?”

    3. PollyQ*

      #2 — Why should a student waste everyone’s time applying for a job they know they wouldn’t take?

    4. Kay*

      I would really like to see you analyze why are arrived at conclusion #2 and to challenge your worldview here. This kind of thinking is very insidious and perpetuates the idea that someone (student in this case) should be obligated to do something just because someone else decided they should. Reading this had thoughts like power dynamics, agency and patriarchy swirling in my head. I think the best route is to trust the students can assess for themselves what is best.

      My hope is that student who received all that prepping was smart enough to pick up on the red flags and decided to wisely spend their time looking for work elsewhere. In the situation I’m guessing went on here – I would be proud of that student for not blindly wasting their time going through the motions.

    5. Ellie*

      If someone in my network recommends me for a job I would likely want to hear a few details, but would feel under no obligation to apply for anything. If the person who contacted me about the job then spent a substantial amount of time ‘prepping’ me, I’d take that as a red flag, either that they’re controlling, that they’re trying to steamroll me, or that they are desperate to fill the role. Its not normal to invest that much time in someone before they’ve even applied for the job, and that’s not even considering if there are other deal-breakers in play (maybe they are relocating after graduation?)

  20. JeJe*

    The tone of the friend definitely seems inappropriate. That said, I was recently on the other side of this, where we got a referral from a professor at a university for a candidate who presented himself so badly (didn’t dress professionally, didn’t prepare for any type skills assessment, didn’t have any questions, wasn’t prepared to make the case for hiring him) that others on the hiring team questioned whether we should recruit from that university again. My boss specifically said, ‘why would they send us this guy.’ I knew the referring professor, so I contacted her to let her know what happened. She was willing to discuss it because she cares about the reputation of her program. Turns out that the university hadn’t been prepping soon-to-be graduates for interviews since the pandemic started and the effects were starting to be noticed.
    Even though the friend is out of line, is it possible that your perfectly good candidates aren’t prepared to interview well?

    1. tessa*

      But the OP specifically states “These are good and reliable students — not people I know super, super closely, but certainly capable and accomplished. (Nobody drew my concern as graduate students; they were all punctual, capable, respectful, and did well in the program.)”

      People like that almost always interview well, or at least don’t interview in a troubling way as you describe.

      1. JeJe*

        Why are you so sure that those people will interview well, unless you trained them on the subject? None of us were born knowing how to prepare for an interview. That’s one of the reasons people read this blog. Doing well in school does not imply having learned how to prep for an interview.

      2. Morgan Proctor*

        Nope! I was a good, reliable, accomplished student, and I was TERRIBLE at interviewing right out of school. Had no idea what to do, what to say, had no idea that I was supposed to ask questions, etc. I missed out on at least one excellent job opportunity because I was just so clueless about what an interview was supposed to be. And then not getting that job crippled my interviewing ability for years! It is 100% possible these people that are phenomenal students just aren’t prepared for the professional world.

        1. quill*

          The skills that go into being a student are vastly different than the skills that go into interviewing well.

    2. Lydia*

      As somebody who has referred students to jobs, I can tell you the answer to “why would they send us this guy” is almost always “because my experience with them did not match yours.” I mean, sure, there may be people out there referring crap candidates and hoping the candidate pulls their shit together that one time, but usually it’s because they are reasonably competent and my experience with them makes me willing to make that referral.

      1. JeJe*

        As far as the hiring team knows, the answer to the question is that your idea of a good candidate doesn’t match theirs? If you refer candidates and they don’t do well, you usually won’t get a barrage of complaints like the OP has been getting. The same company just won’t ask you to refer someone again. Fair or not, employers judge universities and individual programs based on things like this.

        1. Lydia*

          Ohhhhkay? So what? It literally harms no one and if you’re reaching out to someone you know at a school and asking for referrals and the person they referred doesn’t match up to expectations, how would that be on the person making the referral? If you run into three people who are not great, I can see questioning your connection about it, but generally we tend to know adults are adults and have agency over their own behavior.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      This was actually my first assumption – that the pandemic had done a number on the students’ ability to project professionalism… Until I read the complaints. The complaints aren’t the kind of reasonable ones you’ve listed here: “didn’t dress professionally, didn’t prepare for any type skills assessment”, it’s literally complaints because they failed to worship the person they’d been referred to, or a failure to fangirl over the opportunity. Plus, OPs friend didn’t get in touch to have a constructive conversation or “let her know what happened”, she unleashed some fury because OP isn’t pressuring the students to be more subordinate and grateful. Yeah it’s true a lot of candidates interview poorly… But a lot of interviewers also interview poorly! I know who my money is on.

      1. kiki*

        Right, the only complaint listed here that has some merit to it is the last one– the student who didn’t submit their application before closing after “wasting the friend’s time.” But when you consider the friend’s other complaints, it seems like maybe the student is opting not to work with the friend because she’s not good to work with. Just blowing the deadline isn’t the best way to do that, but I could see a student seeing it as the least confrontational option. LW may want to reach out to her students to dig more into the experience they had, but not for their friend’s benefit. It sounds like LW’s friend may have made the application/interview process awful and LW may want to decline sending students to friend in the future.

  21. Just Another Zebra*

    When a department is looking to hire a dozen new people, it’s because of one of two reasons, in my experience: 1) the department has grown exponentially, and current employees are literally drowning in work, or 2) there was a mass exodus and the company is scrambling. Could there be other reasons? Of course. But combining the large hire with candidates not being ‘effusive enough’ makes me lean towards some massive internal problems at your friend’s company.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I would also think that anyplace hiring a dozen workers at once are really looking for entry level “warm bodies” at that point. It could be that the “recent graduates with master’s degrees” that the OP is referring are all over qualified, and the hiring manager is getting defensive at being rejected by the candidates — “You can’t reject me, I reject YOU!” sort of attitude.

      But in any case, with the email and text messages, I would make this person an ex-friend ASAP.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I was more tired from school than I ever was working. Could it be that everyone is just to exhausted to muster up fireworks and marching bands for a job?

  22. learnedthehardway*

    Jane is out to an extended lunch!
    I mean, in general, it is a good idea to have a copy of the position description and to think about whether the person you’re referring is within the general ballpark of the mandate (i.e. referring marketing people for an engineering role is probably not ideal), but that’s as much of a vetting as a referree should do. It’s not your job to do Jane’s job for her. If she doesn’t feel like the candidates are a fit on paper, she shouldn’t interview them. If she feels they are a fit on paper, she should recognize that your referral is only a “you might find this person interesting” kind of referral, NOT a “this is the perfect candidate” referral.

  23. What a way to make a living*

    Depending on the extent to which you need to preserve this relationship with Jane, I think this is worth a firmer reply. Maybe I’m just argumentative or petty or something. But I’d want to let her know she’s behaved out of line.

    You could potentially even ask the students for anonymous feedback on their experience, and then use that to say you won’t be giving any more referrals because you have reports of unprofessional behaviour. Or you could let her know that expecting people to be overly effusive (!) is not generally considered reasonable.

    1. Kay*

      I agree on the saying something part (if the LW does want to continue this relationship). I can see myself being too shocked in the moment to reply to the effusive comment at that time, but I’m guessing Jane will be talking about this at the next dinner so I think at least commenting on her expectations for how people answer the phone or how effusive they should (not) be would be doing her and her future candidates a favor.

      Even something like “My understanding is that “Hello” is a reasonable way to answer the phone” or “If I were interviewing I would express my interest but would never be effusive – that might seem like brownnosing” should get the point across.

  24. Cassandra*

    She’s trying to use you as a free recruiter, and acting like she didn’t get what she paid for. I’m sorry this happened! Definitely don’t refer to her in the future, but I hope that you are occasionally able to recommend students for jobs, that’s such a huge benefit to them.

  25. Essess*

    Since this person is supposedly a friend, you should be honest with them. “Your expectations and complaints are really inappropriate and unprofessional. I will not subject any more of my students to this type of work environment and won’t be referring any more to you.”

  26. RuralGirl*

    I don’t know that I’d ever refer another person to her. At this point, putting them through an interview with her might make you look bad. You’re not a recruiter on her staff, you’re a friend who is helping her out. If your students aren’t a fit for whatever reason, she doesn’t have to hire them. And if she doesn’t think you do a good job of referring people, she doesn’t need to ask you again. But you don’t owe her anything more. You’ve been beyond generous already.

  27. Joy*

    I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am that “pooped in a potted plant” is underlined and going to take me to a different post.

  28. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    As a recent graduate, who has been on the receiving end of these sorts of ‘referrals’ recently… I am begging you, please stop referring your students to this ‘friend’. The friend is a bad manager and a bad employer, and you’re actively assisting their predatory employment practices by doing this, especially because I might still a reference from you as a professor, and thus don’t feel like I can say “no thanks” without you labeling me as ungrateful.

    We all have a social responsibility to not encourage people to be exploited by terrible people, and professors/mentors more than most. Stop enabling your ‘friend’ and start thinking about giving referrals that will actually help your former students.

    1. Jackalope*

      From the tone of the letter, I’m pretty sure that’s what the OP was trying to do. Initially Jane asked for recommendations, the OP sent them, and only now is the OP realizing that there might be a problem with Jane. I agree that she should stop referring students now that this has happened, but I wouldn’t judge her based on her initial referrals.

  29. A Pound of Obscure*

    Oh, hell no. If you know this person as well as you seem to, why not be straightforward and push back? A director with thin, prickly skin won’t be a director for long. If it were me, I’d say, “I referred you some candidates as a favor, and you seem angry about it. They were great students, but whether they are good candidates for your specific roles is for you to decide. The only thing I can do to address the complaints in your email is to avoid referring candidates to you in the future.” If that ends your work friendship, so be it.

  30. Calling BS*

    I feel like this is a place where forcing them to say whatever crazy thing is going on in their head could be amusing. “Well, why did you waste your time if it was going to bother you so much?”
    “I didn’t waste my time, the candidate did!”
    “By… Not accepting an interview?”
    “That’s right, they should have accepted the interview after I did X”
    “So, because you did X, they owed you to interview even though they knew it was a bad fit on their end.??”
    “Doesn’t that just waste the same time for you… Plus the interviewer’s time?”
    “No, Because I’m important!”

    Obviously, that’s not how it works, but after having a coworker complain that I asked if we had some something and they said they wouldn’t share it because I would ruin it… and the thing turns out to literally not exist… I kinda feel like calling out BS might be my new calling.

    1. Move it move it*

      I have a feeling what you’re describing in your final paragraph is a really interesting anecdote, but I wasn’t able to decipher it. Could you clarify what happened?

  31. fhqwhgads*

    The friend is treating LW as though they’re a headhunting not sending over what she wants. LW is so not that. The friend needs to get her head out of her ass and if she wants to be this nitpicky, pay someone to send her candidates, not whine at her friends over perceived slights.

  32. Letter Writer July 25*

    Hello all! I’m the letter writer of this message. Thank you all for your comments— I appreciate your thoughts. When things have calmed down I’ll go and speak to my friend about what I will and won’t be doing in the future re: referrals.

    1. Alan*

      My first thought was that it’s no surprise she’s having trouble finding people, given the way she finds everyone unacceptable. Moreover, she’s being rude to you, her friend! I often forward names of people looking for work if I know of something at work they might be good for. No one has ever complained that the person was bad. They either hired them or they didn’t.

  33. Pugetkayak*

    Those students probably dodged a bullet based on her reasons why they were not “qualified”

  34. Jean Valjean*

    I had a ‘friend’ who treated me like this once. They are a friend no longer, and I am better for it. Always made me feel like I was doing something wrong with my career, but they were the problem all along!

  35. Not So NewReader*

    I trust that you had no clue this one was coming and you got blindsided here, OP.

    I hope you are not discouraged from ever doing this again with other friends/cohorts. I can almost bet your friend is going to be complaining about how she can’t find anyone. smh.

    Just as a point of curiosity- have you referred people to others before now? If yes, how does that experience compare with this experience? Maybe not answer here, but you might be able to extract something by running comparisons if you can.

    1. Letter Writer July 25*

      Hello, OP here!

      I have mostly had good success in referring my students to other employers. Many of the graduate students I work with are internationally trained professionals getting additional education in my country to gain [X country] experience. With a bit of context and some explanations of how interviewing works in my country, they have done very well. This past winter, I referred 8 students to people within my network who were hiring in relevant roles and 6 of the 8 were hired. All are still employed in these roles and several have reached out to say they are doing well in these positions.

      This was why I was a bit thrown for a loop, to be honest. I guess I was naive to how strange the employment process can be– a lesson learned.

      1. Lydia*

        Yeah, t his is a Jane problem, not a you problem. Is it possible Jane is harboring some biases about the referrals since they aren’t necessarily from where they’re studying?

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Seconding what Lydia said: this is a Jane problem, not a you problem. The other referrals you have made in the past were successful, so if I were you I would continue to refer students to other employers, just not to Jane.

      3. Orora*

        Your “friend” seems to have confused “referring” with “recruiting”. A referral is “Hey, you two people who seem reasonably decent might have needs that coincide. I’ll introduce you and you take it from there.” Recruiting is one party saying, “Find me an employee that does X, Y and Z. I will give you detailed feedback about them so you can tailor your efforts to my needs” and the other person listens and sources the right candidate based on those criteria. Recruiters are paid for their efforts. If your “friend” wants you to act as a recruiter, they can compensate you accordingly.

  36. Sara without an H*

    Ummm…OP, this person is not your friend. She is, at most, what Jane Austen called a “useful acquaintance,” who has just ceased to be useful.

    Don’t refer any more of your students to her — if she’s this rude to professional contacts, what do you suppose she’s like to work for? If she asks you to refer more students to you, just say, “Well, I don’t have anyone who would suit you right now, but I’ll keep you in mind.” Repeat as necessary.

    1. ILoveLlamas*

      My thoughts exactly. Jane is not a friend. Friends don’t do this to people they value.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      100% this. Referrals are a favor designed to make your life easier. They are NOT an obligations and I would stop providing them.

  37. Raida*

    personally I’d probably tell her next time I see her the same thing I tell managers that want to bully me that I didn’t do a job well that I’m not trained in:
    “If you do not tell me what it is you’re after I can’t do it and I’m not going to listen to you complain about it. Either give me the information required to do this well or I won’t do it again and we’ll both be happy. Your choice.”

    Plus – didn’t answer the phone respectfully enough? and wasn’t enthusiastic enough about the opportunity? She sound like a terrible hiring manager and as a mate I’d tell her that kind of high opinion of the position is likely to get her only suck ups, not the best people for the roles. *I* wouldn’t apologise if she didn’t like my tone answering the phone, outside work hours, from an unknown number because that’s unreasonably subjective – is she like that as a manager? I’d like to know if she is because I might just not forward any graduates to her to save them from a nitpicking manager who cares more about pandering to her ego than a good worker with recent schooling.
    as a mate I’d be comfortable telling her that – and I’m gonna assume she’s okay hearing it since clearly sending emails and texts with other peoples’ flaws is something we do.

  38. Picky*

    Jane has recently been promoted. She has no idea how to handle her power, but wants to exercise it and show that she is in control. She is going to burn through her department and professional network in a heartbeat, get fired, and then talk about how nobody has as high standards as she does.

  39. What's in a Name?*

    I stopped recommending things after hearing negative feedback, they didn’t like my hairdresser or that restaurant, etc. Whenever asked about a service I use, I say it works for me but your mileage may vary.

  40. HappyPanda*

    Omg, this reminds me of one of my worst managers ever. I had only recently started this job at a new company. My new manager had the hardest time finding suitable candidates to grow our team due to the needed skills being hard to find so she asked me if I couldn’t ask around in my network. I did, and even posted a vacancy message on LinkedIn. I got several replies and after generally checking for suitability based on what my manager had said her needs were, I forwarded the applications to her. After receiving the emails she dissed every single one of the candidates to my face in a punitive, dismissive tone. And any candidates (not referred by me) that were actually interviewed where trashtalked as soon as they walked out the door. I stopped sending her candidates and quit the job myself 2 weeks later.

  41. merida*

    Oof, I feel for you, OP! I once referred a good friend of mine (at her very strong insistence) to a job at my company and wrote a letter of recommendation. I did this twice for her actually. When she found out she was rejected (through no fault of her own – one time the position she was interviewing for was actually eliminated due to lay offs, another time they picked a very overqualified candidate), she was downright livid and sent me a similar-sounding blistering emails about how I didn’t “try hard enough” for her and I wasted her time. The level of entitlement some people feel is astounding!

  42. Dawn*

    My friend asked for my advice (and that of my network) on pricing her work after she started selling her artwork. So I gave it, and then after she protested over feeling uncomfortable with it (charge what your work is worth, people!,) I gave her a very detailed breakdown of how and why I came to those numbers (which were actually a little under what I thought was a fair price because I knew I could only push her so far on that and that she’d resist the idea of a charge without a specific, mathematical reason to be there.)

    Next day in our group chat she shared all about how she agreed to a (much) lower price because she just “didn’t feel right” charging a reasonable cost, etc.

    Folks, the number I arrived at was not unethical. Not by a long shot.

    We don’t discuss her pricing anymore.

    1. Emmy Noether*

      I think that prices for artwork cannot be “unethical” by being too high. Unethically high prices are only in the case of immediate necessities (utilities, food, medication), where people have no alternative but to buy it. Artwork is not a need*, people will buy it only if they think it is worth the price.

      It can absolutely be unethically low though. Do not undercut those other artists charging their worth and trying to make a living!

      *actually, it kind of is, in that humans do need self-expression and beauty and little luxuries for their mental well-being. But they’ll get that in other ways if this specific thing is out of budget.

  43. ElleKay*

    And, if she asks for referrals in the future say “Hm. I’ll think about it and see if I know anyone suitable” and then don’t send her any more candidates

Comments are closed.