In the three years I’ve been working at Udemy, I’ve referred about five people for roles. All have sadly been rejected. Two I personally knew and could vouch for, one was a friend’s friend, one was a former colleague’s former colleague, and one was a current customer’s acquaintance. My general thought about referrals is: I will only refer people that I can either vouch for, or if they are people I do not know, I can vouch for the person who is asking me to refer them. I think it should go without saying that if I don’t like you or think you’re terrible at your job, I will definitely not refer you.
So today, out of nowhere, I got a message from a former colleague at my last company. In the LinkedIn message, he says only this: Hi! Can you please refer me? And then he links the job posting for my company he’s interested in. No niceties. No asking how I am or feigning that he’s interested in my life since we worked at the same company. It’s not that I thought this guy wasn’t good at his job, but frankly, the memories I have of him are that… he’s a creep. He used to get really weird and flirtatious at all our company sales and success kickoff events with any woman he could get a little attention from. I still remember he used to always put his arms around my shoulders and waist when I’d get near him at events. And once, in a real attempt at going too far, he tried to put his hand under my shirt from behind while drunk. I didn’t make a big deal of it since I knew he was wasted, so I pushed him away and shrugged it off. But well, I still haven’t forgotten how gross he was, especially given that at that same time, his wife had recently just given birth to their first child.
So no, he’s not getting a referral from me. I have very little power in the industry I am in. So when I do have this little bit of say, I will use it when I think it’s right. Referrals are not a free-for-all just because you happen to know me and want an interview at the company I’m at. That’s not the way life works.