The old adage is “it's not what you know, but who you know”, being a short statement of the premise that ability is less important than knowing the right person.
At one end of the spectrum is nepotism, as illustrated in this comic:
I am more curious about the generic case – are abilities less influential than contacts for those seeking employment. I would expect this may vary by industry, but I am wondering if anyone has illuminated a generic trend.
Are there any studies that indicate that having the right contacts is significantly more influential than skills and experience in determining whether someone seeking work successfully finds a job they want?