I recently taught a class on job search skills at a local college and was surprised when one of the participants told her story about having an interview at a company. She mentioned how her son had worked there for many years, but she didn’t want to use his name, because she “wanted to get the job on my own merits.”
Her comment reminded me of the saying we’ve all heard, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Like Laura (not her real name), I can remember thinking negatively whenever I heard that someone got a job “like that.” Perhaps I was miffed I didn’t know anyone who could get me anywhere (at least anywhere I wanted to go). Somehow it made that practice seem underhanded and almost illegal.
In my HR career, there were many times where someone’s resume got reviewed because they knew someone. Indeed, several of the companies I worked at, gave an employee referral bonus for any employee who recommended a person who got the job. It’s the birds-of-a-feather syndrome with the theory being if your friend is a good employee, they will “flock” with similar types. (Note: It goes without saying to make sure the person referring you–IS a good employee.)
In all my experience, I can say that the referral got the resume or application reviewed, it didn’t guarantee a job. The individual still needed to be qualified for the job and be the right fit.
I’m not so naive to think that is always the way it is. Sure there are people that get jobs because their father or father-in-law or mother-in-law is the CEO or owner. It happens. We can’t change that. But in this day where the right jobs are few and far between, don’t hesitate to utilize a contact as a segue to have your resume reviewed. If you’re writing a cover letter, mention the person’s name in your introduction.
And don’t worry…you’ll have plenty of time to prove your own merits.