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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:

enter image description here (source)

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?

  • Well, just found that according to this organization CareerXRoads' study in 2011, they said, Referrals make up 27.5% of all external hires. And around 1 hire per 15 referral. I think that's a Lot and makes a point. And I've also experienced this. Networking can get you into a sea of opportunities. – Bibhas Feb 12 '12 at 18:50
  • In case of highly paid specialists industry is terrified of "false positives" (ie. not filtering out candidates that shouldn't be hires), while don't really care about "false negatives" (ie. not hiring someone who'd prove to be excellent worker). It's all about risk aversion. References are perceived as reducing that risk (if they really do is another question). – vartec Feb 14 '12 at 10:26

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