I work as a software developer in a medium sized company in developed country A.

I have family relations to underdeveloped country B. Due to economic crisis, glorification of the west and nepotism being common in country B, I got several requests from family members/ "good" friends of family members to "ask my HR for a job/an internship etc."

While my company is hiring, these requests have in my opinion multiple issues:

  • Language: The applicants have problems with English and usually no knowledge of the local language
  • Lack of skills: Even though they payed lots of $$$ to go to prestigious universities in B, the education system in B is generally below our standards. They lack work experience and knowledge of the technology stack we use.
  • Lack of Visa and work permit.

With these issues I don't feel comfortable forwarding their applications to HR.

What I have tried: Pointing out the obvious issues in the CV. Resulted in "Ok, help me write a good CV". After several hours the CV looked so similar to mine, that an experienced HR will probably notice the similarities and guess who wrote it.

Pointing out lack of skills. Resulted in "Ok, teach me programming language X" or "But I graduated from the best university in B, can you help me registering as a Master/Phd student at a university in country A (or even western countries C and D)"

Pointing out the missing visa. Resulted in "Can you call your countries immigration department and help me get a visa". "Can you sign an affidavit of support". "Ask your company to write me an invitation letter"...

So whatever I tied, I will end up wasting lots of time while still coming across as unhelpful, arrogant westerner.

How do I decline these requests in a polite way while still pointing them into the right direction?

2 Answers 2


It sounds like there's a cultural component to these requests. It sounds like nepotism is common in Country B and these relatives expect you to engage in what is, to them, a normal practice.

You've taken steps that don't really address these cultural differences. In your current country, it's expected that applicants have [x] set of skills and resume whereas in the old country, it's expected that others will help get jobs, possibly irrespective of qualification or need.

I'd suggest starting by reframing the response to the question. Rather than explain why their application won't work (and invite a response that "invites" you to help fix their application), explain why your help won't work.

"I wish I could. In this country, I have no impact at all on the hiring process" "I'm sorry, visa applications are handled by their embassy and I have nothing I can do to help" "Why do you need my help registering for university? You've graduated from the best university; surely that enabled you to be able to register." "This company doesn't do invitation letters." "In this country, they expect you do those things yourself. My doing them for you makes you look like you aren't capable and only hurts your chances."

That way you don't appear unhelpful but reframe the discussion as "the means you are used to don't apply here". I'd also expect that, coming from a culture where nepotism appears to be the way things are done, there will be a lot of guilt applied. "So-and-so would help. Why won't you?" "What, you can't help your family? Who raised you? Are you too good for us now?" "Look at the snooty Westerner - moves away and forgets where home is!" I can't advise culturally how to deal with that; in my family I'd merely say, "I'm not accepting this guilt; I've told you why my help would have no value and it's up to you to accept my explanation or not."

  • 6
    "In this country, they expect you do those things yourself. My doing them for you makes you look like you aren't capable and only hurts your chances." Best sentence in your answer and deserves emphasis.
    – dwizum
    Apr 20, 2018 at 19:58

One of the ways to try and deflect these requests would be to point them to relevant websites for visa application, online programming courses etc. And if they continue to request help, point out that in your company workers are supposed to be fairly self sufficient and if they can't use these resources on their own they are not ready for this job.

You can also emphasize that in Country A unlike B nepotism is not as common (and you are not high enough to engage in it anyway) so they'd still have to compete with others even if they come recommended and it's by no means a guarantee, so once again, if they can't navigate a visa application or brush up on relevant technology they'd have no chance of passing technical interviews and so on.

Bottom line make your help contingent on them helping themselves first, that way if they do have the drive you'll see it and maybe more enthusiastic to recommend them and if they just want a easy ride they'll fail those first steps so you can keep shooting them down with the same script.

The idea here is that once you have a list of helpful resources (which does require some effort on your part) you have a more or less universal answer that you can roll out anytime more requests come in without having to spend too much energy.

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