One of the most rewarding things you can do is help someone get a great job or hire a great person for the position they need to fill. I have traveled a lot, written books, done a bunch of consulting, and spoken widely on MySQL, other databases, open source, and so forth. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people, some I’d call good friends, and many of them are leading large organizations. I think this is both a privilege and a serious responsibility.

It’s a privilege because I can ask some of these people for help or introductions or advice sometimes. It’s a responsibility because I need to be ready to do something for them, too. In many cases it’s a pay-it-forward kind of readiness.

Many, many people contact me looking for people to hire. I keep a list. When someone tells me they are on the job market, I try to match them with openings I’m aware of, if any are appropriate. (Many fewer people tell me they’re looking for jobs than tell me they’re trying to recruit.)

These are my friends, on both sides. I don’t introduce people unless I think everyone is really genuinely bringing something great to the table. A great position – a great talent – the right circumstances and attitudes.

When I do introduce people, I usually do it one-sidedly, depending on the situation. For example, I’ll forward the candidate’s resume and contact information sometimes, with a few words of introduction. At other times I’ll just BCC the candidate. Or I might send the recruiting party’s information to the candidate.

People usually take this very seriously, but occasionally I’ve referred several people to a company only to find out that the company didn’t follow up on the introduction. That’s pretty much the last chance that company will get from me. If I made a special personal effort to send you someone fantastic who’s really qualified for the job, and you didn’t contact that candidate, there’s really no excuse for such rudeness. You’re telling me you don’t think my experience and judgment about who’s good for the job is valid. I won’t offer it again, then.

Recruiters are an interesting lot. They have a bad reputation, and I think that’s because a few aggressive, pushy people poison the well for the rest of the recruiters. Most recruiters are really good people doing a hard and extremely valuable job, with a lot of care and personal attention to their client as well as their candidates. If you’ve ever built a team, you know how hard it can be. Many recruiters are used to being treated very badly because of their profession’s reputation. I try to make up for that by being extra nice to them. Recruiters who contact me by email often get a personal call in return, and always a personal email reply with a thank you. In almost all cases, recruiters will tell me who their client is after I’ve introduced myself. I only refer my friends to recruiters when I know who they’re recruiting for, and I never make an end run around recruiters. They are doing a mostly thankless job, and they should not be cheated out of their commission.

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to help a half dozen friends find jobs, and there’s pretty much no better feeling. If you’re looking, let me know. I know really good people who are looking for you. I’m never too busy to help make introductions.

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