THE BLOG
08/27/2014 03:27 pm ET | Updated Oct 27, 2014

Does Knowing Someone Get YOU Work?

OF course it will! But wait. There's more to the story.

Used to be that "knowing a guy" (and yes, it most often was a guy) was all you needed to get a job. Go see the man in charge, and presto. You're working.

Exactly how you're supposed to get that appointment wasn't really touched on in career development programs, other than to mention some sort of charm offensive trick for the gatekeeper. But now there are no gatekeepers. Only screening software and on-line job application sites. While there are still top dogs in every organization, hiring most always includes a group of people. All of them need to give you thumbs up. But even the fact that most jobs require more than one person to nod their head "Yes," doesn't tell the full story.

Take this example. I live down the street from the Mayor of Chicago. Rahm Emanuel. I live in a much smaller house, but on the very same street. I've seen him sitting on his badly in need of a paint job front steps reading the Sunday paper while the security team sits in the cars at the curb. I've waved; he's looked up, smiled and gone back to his newspaper.

But let's just say that instead of walking by, I stopped, somehow kept the security detail in their cars, walked up and said, "Excuse me Mr. Mayor. Here's my resume and the book I wrote that offers a whole new way to think about finding work. Can we have a conversation about how I can lead a program that will prompt Chicagoans in record numbers to find work when there are no jobs?"

What would happen next? Security would have made it from the cars to the steps and I'd be moving along. Or stopped for questioning.

And the reason isn't because the Mayor is a bad guy. Or that I'm a security threat. The reason is that despite the fact that we live down the street from each other, we are not in the same community. We don't run in the same circles. That's not a judgment. It's a description. Community not networking or whom you know is what sets the stage for finding work.

A church, a school alumni group or a bunch of people from the place you worked or had an internship back in the day can all be a community. A common connection that goes deep. The people on your block could be a community or they could be people who don't even say hello unless there are others watching. It's all in that deeper connection.

Not just who you know.

A community can also be two people.

Finding Work When There Are No Jobs readers Lisa and Roy stayed in touch after Roy finished a training contract at Lisa's company. They shared a deep connection to the idea of employee engagement. Making sure people were both happy and productive in their work. And both did the work of employee engagement well. So when Lisa had another contract come up that required an executive coach for an initiative that was operationally driven, she really didn't think twice before calling Roy. She knew he'd be a perfect fit. She knew him well.

The two of them were a community.