Here's the situation: I was employed for a very small law firm (2 attorneys) this past summer. Guy I worked for is a friend of my dad.
I've got a callback interview with a midsized firm. Employer from this past summer knows a partner at the firm and says he will make a call to him to put in a good word for me. The problem is that my dad tells me that my former employer is not exactly "well-thought of" by some. Some people think he's lazy. My dad says he's a smart guy, but he, too, says he's a bit lazy.
Former employer told me he didn't want to "use up his favors" when I called him about the firm for the screening interview, but he said he would make the call for the callback interview. I think former employer is pretty good friends with the partner at the firm I have the callback with though.
My roommate tells me to use my connection anyway, and that it can't hurt. I worry that using it could screw me though. (I assume midsized law firm perceives most firms on resumes to be decent. But partner at the firm may inform hiring committee that my former employer's firm is not that great, thus hurting me rather than helping me.) If, after using my connection, I don't get an offer, I will be pissed off and wonder whether I shouldn't have used the connection. (Same thing if I don't use the connection, but to a lesser extent.)
Sorry about the bad writing. Wanted to write this quickly.