Should You Rely On Family Connections When Job Hunting

Should You Rely On Family Connections When Job Hunting

By Mark Swartz


If at least one of your adult relatives likes you, they can turbocharge your job search by introducing you to their network of contacts. Putting in a good word for you or even pulling strings to give you an edge in getting hired.

None of this is entirely for free, of course. More reliance on family connections means less independence. That may seem a small price to pay at first blush. Just be certain the benefits outweigh the true costs of kin involvement.


How Family Can Help You


Whether it’s mom, dad, uncle Amil or cousin Barbara, there are three main ways they can accelerate your work hunt. Note that this isn’t about relatives giving you a job. That topic’s covered in “Working for the family business.”


1)  Networking

Adult family members know a diverse range of professionals. Giving you access to these established contacts opens doors aplenty.


Family Connection Upsides

People in your relative’s grid will agree more readily to meet with you. They may do so faster than when networking on your own. Plus the contact usually assumes that your relative wouldn’t introduce you unless they think you are worthy.


Possible Downsides

Each relative only knows so many people. Relying too much on family may not get you connected to decision makers in your career field. Extra pressure can also be a concern. If you mess up when meeting with a referred contact, your family will hear about it quickly.


2)  Endorsing

Your relative has (presumably) known you for a good number of years. They can act as an initial reference for contacts they connect you with.


Family Connection Upsides

The relative can talk you up to their contacts. Although they may not know much about your studies or work experience, they can testify to your personal qualities. That will predispose the contact to have a favourable impression before you get in touch.


Possible Downsides

All families are biased. Employers take those endorsements with a grain or two of salt. Moreover your relatives probably haven’t witnessed you at school or work. Their ability to assess you properly is resultingly limited.


3)  Pulling Strings

A family member may try to get you special consideration. This could be accomplished by asking their connection for a favour, or by using clout to insist their request be granted.


Family Connection Upsides

Receiving special consideration – be it a job interview which you wouldn’t have been chosen for otherwise or actually getting hired ahead of better candidates – makes job hunting much easier.


Possible Downsides

If the family member asks for a favour, they’re stretching their neck out for you. What if you blow the opportunity? It certainly won’t reflect well on the relative. Their relationship with that contact could get strained. Family might think twice about aiding you further.

A different set of problems arise when the relative uses clout. The contact who’s pressured into doing something for you might resent being strong-armed. They may do as told, but could attempt to invisibly sabotage you. Also how will depending on family influence impact your self-respect?


General Positives and Negatives Of Relying On Family


Close relatives are generally willing to go out on a limb for you. In fact they may feel a sense of kinship-duty to assist you. That can foster stronger family ties because it’s like you’re working together on your career success.

On the other hand you could become beholden to that relative. As with anyone who does you a solid, they may expect something in return. Or they might take credit for your job search achievements. That would make you look dependent and less competent.

There is something to be said for relying less on family. Job searching is seldom easy. However you know more people than you think. Leaning on your own drive and merits frees you up to do so for a lifetime. That way an occasional assist from mom or uncle Amil costs far less.