On Helping Friends With Their Careers

Cheering friends watching television

I’ve always been known as the guy that helps his friends. I’d never want that to change. I enjoy helping people, and I especially enjoy helping friends.

But I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years of doing it.

Lessons learned in helping friends

  1. The primary thing you should be filtering for when you decide to get a friend a job is not talent, it’s the desire to better oneself in the field you’re trying to get them into

  2. It’s hard to know, especially when you’re younger, which of your friends will do this and which will settle into a state of mediocrity a few weeks or months after starting

  3. What I’ve noticed is that it all comes down to how they spend their time. Do they spend endless hours per week playing video games and/or watching TV? Or do they already have a productive hobby that betters them in some way? If they don’t, there is little chance that they’re going to suddenly change their behavior when they get the job

  4. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but it does mean that you should be honest with yourself and with the friend

  5. Tell the person that if they want to do well they’re going to have to immerse themselves in the career, and that means spending hours per week studying it, i.e. hours less doing something else

  6. Be prepared for the person to lapse into their regular routine of spending their time doing activities that don’t help them in any way professionally. Don’t be surprised by it, and don’t get mad about it. Expect it

  7. Every year or so, have the conversation with them again, explaining that the reason they can’t get ahead is because they aren’t spending time on it, and that they will have to make sacrifices if they want to get to the next level. And again, don’t expect anything from that conversation; it’s just something you need to do to make sure they’re hearing the right things

  8. Don’t put someone like this into a position that will make you look bad if they don’t thrive and become like you. That’s unfair to them, and it’s detrimental to your career as well. All it will do is create tension between you and your friend, and you and your employer

  9. Try your best to anticipate which category the friend falls into before recommending them for positions, and only put them into roles where they’re not going to be letting people down if they do not become rockstars

  10. At the same time, keep having the conversation with them about how they can BECOME a rockstar if they’re willing to put the work in, and be willing to mentor them if they are


  1. The people you want to get hired are likely either rockstars in hiding or people just looking to get by so they can do something fun that’s not work-related

  2. Tell your friends before you hire them that there is only one path to being a rockstar, and that’s spending thousands of hours working on the craft, and if they’re not willing to do that they shouldn’t expect great things from the position

  3. Make sure you’re not putting you and your friend in a bad position by recommending them for a position that requires a rockstar when they aren’t one

  4. Keep having the rockstar conversation with your friends; don’t give up on them, and don’t let them give up on themselves. But if they do resign themselves to mediocrity, accept them anyway

Related posts: