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Did a Client 'Suggest' You Hire His Son? What to do. Professionalism can set boundaries and expectations when the way seems unclear.

By Gael O'Brien

This story appears in the August 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Brian Rea

A big client is pressuring me to hire his son, a recent graduate, as a "favor." But it feels like a demand. The son made a poor impression and isn't a fit for my business. How do I handle it?

Let's be generous and assume this client wants his son to succeed -- and not, say, just have an easy path in life. And yet, the worried dad has pushed his reasoning and ethics aside. (Hopefully, for everyone's sake, it's a one-time thing). Hiring a bad fit as a "favor" -- or really, hiring at all as a favor -- inevitably ends badly. What will you do when employees become frustrated that the son can't do the work, and the golden child complains to his dad that he's being treated badly? Or when the client asks about a promotion for his boy, and dangles additional business to seal the deal? Soon you'll be wondering how much you're willing to sacrifice for this client. And this is why many businesses have anti-nepotism hiring policies -- something you might consider going forward.

When the outcomes of an ethical dilemma all seem to lean undesirable, it's time to get creative. Decide what you're willing to invest, both in time and networking, to support the client's goal.

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