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Is It Really All About Who You Know?

You’ve heard that expression, it’s not about what you know, but who you know when trying to get a job.  That is only partially correct. It is actually about who knows you and if that person has enough confidence in your ability.   You can convince a dozen people, ranging from Clair at the gym to your cousin Max, to vouch that you are a decent candidate for a job. It takes a special connection to trust you enough to go beyond a standard referral and serve as your advocate.

Who You Know (Photo: iStockphoto)

According to the CareerXRoads 2013 Source of the Hire study, referrals from current employees fill 42 percent of a company’s job openings. CareerXRoads reports that “a candidate who has acquired a referral is three to four times more likely to be hired.” Compare that to the 20% of candidates selected through online job sites.  It makes sense to pave the way to your next job through networking and connecting.

One reason why the percentage of employees sourced from an internal referral is so high is because hiring managers are more likely to take a chance on an employee who comes with an endorsement from someone who has a stake in the success of the new hire. An employee would be foolish to risk her good reputation by endorsing a weak candidate. Another reason the rate is high for internal referrals is because an employee is likely to inquire about the status of his referral.  The follow-up can move the referred candidate to the top of the heap of resumes.  A strong internal referral is like a fast pass to the job interview.

How do you get this interview fast pass? Earning the fast pass is matter of mastering the short game and the long game. The long game is the continuous practice of building genuine reciprocal relationships. Colleagues that you’ve supported through good and bad times will be eager to endorse you. The short game is to update your friends, family, colleagues, and former co-workers regarding your career goals. Get connected, remain connected and serve as a resource for others. You will likely find that people will reciprocate, which will facilitate a swifter pace to a new position.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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