Should You Hire Your Friends?

You recently learned that one of your high school buddies, Tom, got laid off from his job. Turns out that Tom isn’t just your old classmate, he’s also your auntie’s best friend’s nephew. You know there are clear drawbacks to hiring friends as employees (blurry boundaries, exploitation, favoritism, etc.), but Tom’s got valuable technical skills and your company is super starved for new talent right now. So, should you hire Tom?

Let’s take a look.

Here are a few situations in which you might consider hiring Tom:

He’s the right fit for your company
You don’t want to hire Tom simply to fill a seat in your office. You want to hire him because he’ll add value to the role, to the company, and to the team you manage. In reality, it’s not about Tom at all. It’s about keeping your businesses running like a well-oiled machine. Will Tom help keep the wheels turning or will he throw a wrench into the works?

You have temporary projects
One way to evaluate Tom’s fit is to bring him onboard temporarily to help with short-term projects or assignments. Put those technical skills of his to the test! This allows you to assess his performance, work ethic, and ability to collaborate with the rest of the team. It also gives you a mutual opportunity to sever ties should the relationship not work out.

You’re comfortable with firing him
As a manager, you have to make tough decisions to meet the goals and objectives of the company, which sometimes includes letting an employee go. Before you hire Tom, are you also comfortable and capable of firing him, too?

Here are a few situations in which you might NOT want to hire Tom:

You’re doing him a favor
Though being able to employ a friend in need is noble, make sure Tom wants to work for your company, not just any company—it’s the key to ensuring fit and longevity for any role. Plus, have you considered why he was laid off from his previous job?

Tom is your best friend
Do you and Tom play golf together on the weekends? Do your kids go to the same karate class? Have you known Tom since you were both in diapers? If so, it’s not worth risking the meaningful friendship you’ve built. The dynamics of the relationship will change quickly once you’ve gone from buddy to boss.

You’re strapped for time
Swiftness is crucial for snatching up the best workers in Hawaii’s hot hiring climate. However, hiring Tom because you don’t have time to source and vet candidates is not the solution to your workforce woes. One could even argue that it takes more time, as failing to properly qualify a candidate gives way to costly staff turnover.

In short, Tom may be a promising candidate for the job. To be absolutely sure (and to avoid perceptions of nepotism), its best to run Tom through the company’s normal hiring process—just as you would with any other candidate.

As Hawaii’s talent pool continues to shrink, employers may find themselves needing to tap into their social networks now more than ever. Whether you’re knocking on their door or they’re knocking on yours, the reality is that the friend-turned-employee relationship can work, but should always be taken with much consideration to the overall interest of your company and the personal relationships and reputation you wish to maintain.