Is it better to get a job via “who you know” or “what you know”? PART 1

A man dies and goes to heaven. As he walks around and introduces himself to everyone, he notices the devil standing off to the side. He walks over to the devil and says, “How did you get in here?” To which the devil replied, “I knew the right people.”

It is perhaps an age-old question, especially if you are job hunting or trying to move up the corporate ladder as to which is more important. Having the knowledge and talent or just knowing the right people. And let us be honest here. The two do not necessarily go together.

There’s no question that knowledge and talent to perform a specific job is important. But, as we all know there are a lot of intelligent and talented people standing on the unemployment line. So what gives?

I believe the answer is in recognising the fact that when you are looking for a job or you have one but want to move up that you are dealing with what I call “the human factor.” Your resume may be great and your experience quite impressive but if you don’t know the person who is going to read it and thus decide whether or not to call you for an interview, you are in essence, disadvantaged.

Now I know what you are going to say. How could I possibly get to know all these important decision makers? There are dozens and dozens of companies out there that I am sending resumes to. I don’t have the time to look them all up and even if I did, you can’t just go walking into someone’s office and expect them to talk to you. Assuming of course you can get by security or the receptionist.

You are quite correct. You, no doubt will be turned away. But the fact of the matter is, currently of high competition and more people going after fewer jobs, the human factor has become even more important.

Right person or the right answer

For professional success, is it your experience and ability, or your contacts and popularity that matter? Is it your knowledge and determination, or your Twitter followers and reputation? Or, for Generation-Y, are all of these factors of equal significance for measuring the overall outcome of our successes?

We live in a world where it is easier to contact and build relationships with the necessary people through social media. We can contact a person at a click of a button (or “like”) and gather information about organizations to attain an employee’s contact information within split seconds.

Has it become more important to know the right person than to know the right answer?

The question of whether it’s better to know the right person or know the right information depends on the industry, but both sides of the coin are influential and have contributed to my journey, thus far. Who you know is important, but could I have risen to my current situation without my knowledge and education? I’m not so sure.

This is not to say that I am not eternally appreciative and thankful to the people who have helped me along the way. Each of them gave me an opportunity that was essential to the start of my career and I do not take that for granted. I have had to prove myself to get opportunities, but I have also been in the right place at the right time and known the right person.

Still, I felt more gratified when my opportunities came from my capability and work qualifications, rather than from my network. When opportunities came from my abilities, I knew things were happening because my work spoke for itself; my work had more weight than the people I knew.

However, if the overall outcome is the same and goals and targets are reached, does it matter how we get where we get?

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