THE BLOG
04/08/2013 03:53 pm ET Updated Jun 08, 2013

Lucky Connections & Remembering to Pay It Forward

With the recovery of the recession moving slower than Americans hoped, many are wondering how much longer their nerves can last. Unfortunately many have given up. Others have completely changed career paths, hoping to have better look in a new field. There are also the people who are stuck at the bottom, clawing their way like a wild dog to the top.

Employers aren't making it the easiest either. In the past, an overqualified applicant would be overlooked. If an applicant was "too experienced" the company would usually have to pay them more. However, when the recession hit, this notion was thrown out of the window. Employers could now afford to hire these over-qualified applicants by tacking on higher standards without the pay increase. So how can a person with little experience gain experience if all the jobs are going to the people who already have experience? This is merry-go-round type of problem that until someone stops it, it will continue to spin. Those who "get sick" of the spinning motion are the ones who quit searching or attempt to go find a slower ride. Others hold on for dear life, hoping that a hand will reach out in the form of a steady paycheck and decent job.

While experience is important and is a simple way to drive away competition, that is not the easiest way to find employment and quickly fill the position. It all has to do with connections. Having a friend that knows someone who knows someone is one of the most common approach to filling vacancies. Why should a company spend days of their valuable time and money pouring over thousands of resumes (with a huge chunk of them not even being looked at)? Of course they pay people to do this, but they could save a lot of money, if they just hired the boss's son or friend.

Many companies are hiring internally to cut down on the process. Without connections, an average jobseeker would have no idea that the position is open. This whole process oddly reminds me of Downton Abbey where the Granthams' primary purpose (of the first season) is to keep the estate within the family. Companies find it easier to hire someone they know, rather than someone they only know on paper. This bothers many outside of the inner circle and the word nepotism may be thrown around and is generally used in a negative tone. This is most widely seen in the entertainment industry. Some of the parties involved go to great lengths to further themselves from their famous family and try to make it truly on their own. Depending on those involved, backlash could be brutal or they may find great success. Yet, it is by far not the only industry where this occurs. It is just more apparent.

Luck also plays a key role in the hiring process. It is something that is not talked about, but is very present. While experience and talent helps, if the employer saw or remembered something about the applicant, this could help land them the job. It could be a reference or something on their resume. Considered the potential amount of applicants, this is where luck comes into play. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle for many is having their resume or work being seen at all. The notion of being "discovered" is not just in the entertainment field. Applicants from all industries get discovered by chance. A person could have just been at the right place at the right time.

So what does this all mean? In today's world, there are very few people who truly made it without any help from anyone. There are the stories of people who "came from nothing" and are now very successful. However, even those people would admit (maybe behind closed doors), that someone at one point helped them along the way. These connections whether through networking or plain luck helped shape who they are today.

The success of the very successful should not be downplayed because of this. Though it is a key starting factor and shouldn't be ignored; the problem is that some people reach a certain level and they forget what it was like at the bottom. This is why shows like Undercover Boss were so popular. Some these bosses were never at the bottom. But remembering to "pay-it-forward" by giving others a shot will help not just the employer or the company, but the economy as a whole. The employers don't have to hire everyone who walks through their door, but taking the time to make new connections could lead to bigger and better opportunities for all involved. Once the door is open, it is up to the applicant to make his or her own way. Unfortunately for many the door to success is either stuck, locked, or one of those revolving doors. Going in circles loses its appeal after a while.