The Friendly Referral
Question: An old friend of mine is interested in a job opening at the firm I work at and reached out asking if I would pass her resume along. We've never worked together, but I know she wouldn't do well here. She's kind of a loud mouth and I can't imagine her interacting well with upper management, which is a big part of the role. I don't want to say no, because she's someone I like hanging out with...but I also don't want to put her resume forward and have it reflect poorly on me. How can I get out of this?
Answer: Don't get an inflated sense of importance here. Connections matter, but a referral from you doesn't necessarily mean a shoe-in for her. You're in a different department and your friend's resume would need to meet certain criteria before she'd get a call from HR in the first place.
Passing along resumes is an unfortunate obligation of friendship. The only time you're exempt from this duty is if the friend in question is a backstabbing manipulator or complete incompetent. Your friend merely sounds annoying. So play along and forward her resume without explicitly recommending her.
It's easy: Email HR saying that you're acquainted with candidate X and that, while you can't speak to her professional capabilities, she contacted you with interest and you're forwarding her details along. The bare bone wording here lets HR know that you're just passing the baton—not singing the praises of someone you truly believe to be stellar for the role.
HR people deal with this situation all the time. If they see something promising, they'll take it from there (and the onus will be on them, not you). If they don't—which is far more likely—they'll pass and you'll have fulfilled your friendship duty, easy-peasy.
Your friend will owe you a drink either way and you'll be able to ask for a favor in return one day, if needed. Win win.