People asking you to refer them, and you have nothing good to say...
How did you handle this sticky situation: someone who worked with in the past is applying for a job at your company and has contacted you to ask if it's OK if they write your name in the cover letter, they have also asked if you can put them in touch with the hiring manager. Trouble is that there were many complaints about the quality of her work and her worth ethic at the other place. Based on what I saw, the complaints were legitimate. I haven't had any interaction with her outside of this context so I don't really have anything good to say. From the tone of her email, I believe she is clueless about other people's perception of her work. I don't want to screw her over and I certainly don't want my name associated with her or be seen as giving her any kind of endorsement. How do I gracefully bow out of this one? I'm thinking of saying something to the effect of this:
"there wasn't sufficient overlap in our functional roles for me to provide a positive assessment and it will not reflect well if I can't provide a very strong endorsement". How would you frame it?
Also while we are on this subject, it would be great if people could comment on this practice in general. I guess each place is different but does having someone within the company forward your resume usually count towards something? I have reluctantly done this for a few friends in the past (obviously ones that I didn't believe would be bad hires) but I have been of the opinion that unless the person who would be referring is very senior and the candidate blew them away with his/her work ethic or the person would be working very closely with the candidate, this type of referral comes across as weak or neutral at best. Isn't it better to use your internal person to gather as much information about the company and division and reach out to the hiring manager directly?
That Response is sufficiently good. You can remove the "positive" so you don't qualify the type of "assessment". And instead of "strong" endorsement, state - "credible" endorsement.
You are well in your right to want to Support or foster a Network for someone who you are not supportive of - protecting your credibilty is part of the Networking endeavor.
I agree with the modifications to your response that DX has suggested.
As to whether or not employers value referrals from their current employees, consider the fact that many provide a financial incentive that you would receive when one of your referrals is hired. A new employee represents a big unknown, and companies look for anything they can that will reduce the uncertainty in the process. If you are willing to recommend someone for a job, they know that you are putting your own reputation on the line and are therefore likely to have already vetted the prospect.
Keep in mind also that your willingness to recommend someone may depend on the job they're looking at. You might think someone has great people skills and would make a great salesman, for example, but wouldn't suggest them for an accounting position because they tend to skip over the details.
Thanks for the suggested change in wording DX. It was certainly helpful.
Rich that's exactly my point. I better make damn sure whomever I ask to refer me would have really good things to say about me. And when I have had the luxury of knowing such a person, I would list them on my CV as a reference. There is no point in asking someone that can't really provide that kind of endorsement. It could actually hurt my chances.