How to approach applying for a job at a company owned by a friend?

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A friend of mine is the CEO of his own small business. We’re not very close friends, but we know each other well enough to have visited each other’s houses for dinner and drinks a few times.

His business is advertising a role which interests me. I have suitable skills for this role but limited experience, so it’s likely to get better candidates than I – at least on paper. It is reporting to one of his subordinates, and I have no idea how much (if any) input my friend might have into the recruiting process.

I would like to apply for this job but I don’t want to cause problems for my friend, nor to have our friendship unduly influence the recruiting process. I have not yet spoken to my friend about it because doing so would certainly result in the latter outcome.

They work in quite a small office. There is a strong chance that, were I to manage to get to the interview stage anonymously, my friend would see me when I arrived. But I also know he’s out of the office a lot.

How should I proceed? I am happy to consider that “not proceeding” may be the best course of action here, especially given that I may well not get the job.

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Amr Gamal1 year4 Answers1227 viewsBeginner2

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    Of course it will. But that’s not in and of itself a problem.1 You know this person well enough to consider him a friend so it would be very strange not to give him a heads-up, especially because he’s actually the owner and it’s a small business. Just tell him that you saw the ad and think that you could potentially be a good candidate, even if you aren’t a perfect match experience-wise. Just be direct, honest and make it easy for him to say no. There are legitimate reasons not to hire friends, even if there are a few levels between you, your friend might simply prefer not to mix business with personal relationships, or they may as you suspect prefer a more experienced profile.

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      Unless you desperately need this job, in which case it’s a whole different story. Then saying “please please give me a job, I’m about to lose my house and my children will be starving homeless waifs” etc might be your best bet.

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    I think you should apply for the role first and decide next steps based on how they take it next. I am assuming your buddy CEO will not screen through online applications and will not know you have applied.

    So if his team-members decline your online application itself, then there is nothing for you to think! If they do call you for an interview, then you know that it is based on your merits and not because of your connections and you can feel good about it.

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      Before going to the interview, you can send a note (I would prefer that over a phone call) that you had applied for this position and you are appearing for the interview. You can express your concern anyway about conflict-of-interest but more likely than not he will understand the situation himself and ideally should keep himself out of decision making process.

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