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Connections are worth more than degrees

I stated in a post I wrote months ago that I was searching for a new job. Today I am happy to announce that months of prayer have seen fruition. In May, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, yet I worked at the same job I worked for at my senior year of college. I don’t begrudge the work I did at all. It allowed me to pay the bills during a year of college, following me getting married and moving out of my parent’s house. When I needed a job that could support a young married couple still in school, God provided. This was quite a feat I can’t say I observe among the youth that I know. However the daily provisions provided by God are not the subject of this post. Rather, the steadfast prayer of my friends and family was answered using connections.

After graduating in May, I like many college graduates, thought finding a job that was decent paying would just be waiting. I was sorely mistaken, and I’m not alone in pursuing a degree and not seeing a job on the other side. A good number of my now former coworkers are in the same bind, even with Master’s degrees. To further add to my discouragement, I was talking to someone a few years older than me, and they told me that it took them two years to find a job which used their degree. I did not want this to be me. I filled out countless applications on Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster. None of them came into any fruition. I even received phone calls from headhunters who said they would put me in for a job opening for their client and heard nothing since. To make that worse, I would then repeat the same process with someone else looking to pace me in the same opportunity.

Throughout this process, my prayers reassured me of one thing: God would not let me work another winter at my job. What a test of faith this was since the Stark words “Winer is Coming” were a haunting thought. All the while (I’m not going to name names) a close connection was working on a referring me for a large company that she worked at. This took months, since at least August. This connection, without filling out an application and dropping my resume into a algorithm, landed me the first interview for a position that was a step up from my current one.

I am reminded of the scene in Step Brothers where the son, to the father’s disgust, insists that he can join the family business, a private medical practice, because of who he knows. This situation isn’t like that. The job I’ve accepted is entry level. Entry level means they will teach you the necessary skills. My demonstrated ability to learn ultimately prevailed, landing me the job, not just my connection. But in a world where online job listings send dozens of applications, employee referrals stand out. Here are a few reasons

  1. Employees are motivated to recruit quality candidates through referral programs
  2. A lent credibility created by a referral
  3. Unwillingness to swift through other applicants
  4. People going to work and seeing their friends is good for workplace morale

Number four was specifically explained to me by my new employer. When I started my new job I was told that people within the company get first glance at positions. Then people who are referred. And lastly people on the street. Having a foot in the door, professionally is a huge advantage, for both the applicant and the company. This is why many applications ask whether a family member has worked for the employer you are applying to. Much of this applies to college graduates who have degrees, but lack certain experiences thus unable to stand out in application pools. My advice to people on the job market would be to utilize connections, whether it be familial, friends, or even on LinkedIn. Connections deliver results.

Raymond Fava is the Founder of Startup Christ and the founder of EcoEats, Inc. EcoEats crafts exotic jerkies using unique flavors. To see their selection, click here.

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