When Job Referral Fees Go Wrong

When Job Referral Fees Go Wrong

Many employers offer a bonus to staff members who help find suitable candidates to fill vacancies, paying out large sums if a suitable candidate is found and hired. It’s a great idea when it works — but it can mess up your personal life if it doesn’t.

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An accountant friend of mine recently referred another friend (also an accountant) for a position at the same firm. Friend #2 ultimately decided not to take the job — but by that point friend #1, convinced a sizeable bonus was imminent, had already booked some expensive renovations to his house. The end result? A lot of social awkwardness and unpleasantness.

Even if a friend or relative accepts the job, redefining the boundaries between your existing relationship and workplace etiquette can be tricky. Ever had your own bad experience with job referrals? Tell us (anonymously if need be) in the comments.


  • The applicant did absolutely nothing wrong. The person who had booked those house renovations made a pretty obvious mistake: buying things with money they didn’t have. A mistake you would think an accountant would avoid.

    • What kind of douche tries to pass the buck to his friend because he overcommitted to rennovations he clearly couldn’t really afford?

  • Referred a friend for a role successfully. He’s been there for years now and has done really really well, so I’m pleased it worked out. The agency offering the referral fee took an age to process payment, which was disappointing. I chased them for weeks.

  • What an idiot, in most workplaces you don’t get the referral bonus/fee until the person you referred has been in the role for a certain amount of time (6 months or so)/ passes the probation period (if any).


    A) Don’t count your chickens until they hatch

    B) It’s a job, not a charity, friend 2 should not have to consider friend 1’s wants and needs when deciding whether or not to take a job or how long to stay there, etc.

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