Over the next two months, approximately 3 million young adults will graduate and enter the job market. About half will graduate from college and the other half will graduate from high school with no plans for higher education.
Despite the differences in career paths and future opportunities, how they find that next job is likely to be similar. According to this study, 80% of people will find a job through someone they know. So whether you are a high school graduate who landed a job at the local Caterpillar plant or a college graduate who will be starting as an analyst at Merrill Lynch, odds are that job came courtesy of a connection.
Recently I asked a friend how his kids were doing. He mentioned that one was graduating and was looking for a job in cyber security. By sheer coincidence, I happened to have a friend who owns a cyber security firm in DC and offered to make the connection. After sending a simple email with resume, an interview followed and he was hired. Upon receiving the news, both the son and Dad emailed to thank me. Take note of this excerpt from one email:
“Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!!
Trust me, you have given a father one of the best gifts of a lifetime — his child’s first “real” job! Many people begin life or life’s big steps on second or third base and think they hit a double or triple…that they did this themselves. You put my son squarely on second base, with a big turn to third; he started his job search with an extra base hit, thanks to you.
First let me state the obvious, the kid still had to have a good resume and nail the interview, so his individual effort and accomplishment should in no way be diminished.
At the same time, it’s interesting that even though most of us get some help in finding a job through a connection, we often fail to fully recognize and appreciate its significance.
Perhaps it’s because of potential embarrassment born out of concern that others will feel you didn’t earn the position. Or maybe it’s just one other example of fundamental attribution bias – our natural tendency to believe that we are the sole drivers of our life’s outcomes.
When we don’t celebrate this aspect of our connectedness, two things happen. One we don’t own the advantages some have over others just because of who they know. And two, we don’t actively seek to put our connections to work for others.
In the spirit of this post, find some time today to thank someone who helped you land a job or use your connections to do the same for someone else. Either action will make you and the person you reach out to feel great.
(This post is dedicated to the late Lyn Salzburg – who helped me start my career on second base.)