If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual. - Sun Tsu
People complicate the view that family and friend job connections are unearned, unfair, and unhealthy for the economy. This misguided view of the benefits of nepotism and work can lead to less success, less growth, and overall less efficiency. If someone one knows is the best fit for something they need a shot and it is up to those around them to open the door for them to walk through. Don’t overthink it, if one is looking to advance that means those around oneself (one’s in group) should be advancing as well. When one eats, all eat.
Much of the debate is muddled by the conflation of three related but distinct things: blatant nepotism (business owners hiring family members), nepotistic networking (well-connected parents helping to secure jobs for their children through friends), or simply class privilege (well-off parents equipping their children with education and social capital that helps land them a job more easily than others).
Nepotism has negative connotations both in the workplace and politics because it promotes partiality and produces undesirable outcomes such as organizational inefficiencies. However, under certain but limited circumstances, it can be beneficial.
An extensive study by J. Ruch et al. involving a species of spiders explored the role of kinship in survival and evolution. Results revealed that spiders were considerably more efficient at foraging for food and cooperate better when they are related to each other. Based on its conclusion, in several animal species, being surrounded by kin members usually lead to better group dynamics and more cooperation, as well as better chances of survival.
The study mentioned above can help explain some of the benefits and applications of nepotism under selected situations. Consider smaller organizations as an example.
Family Business: Private enterprises often resort to hiring family members and other relatives to maintain secrecy and preserve what they consider as a family legacy.
Startups: Nepotism can help speed up the creation and operation of a startup business because working with familiar people can promote efficiency.
Hiring and Retention: Time and cost of hiring relatives are lesser. Furthermore, in properly managed organizations, absenteeism and turnover rates are low.
Knowledge Management: Knowledge can be transferred and secured efficiently when passed down on familiar people such as family members.
Consider two types of nepotism: entitlement and reciprocal. The latter provides several advantages such as better and healthier social exchange, as well as the facilitation of tacit knowledge that can bring forth competitive advantage.
Nepotism can be problematic in certain circumstances. A number of studies have investigated and explained its negative implications in leadership and organizational efficiency.
Authoritarian Leadership: Having a leader surrounded mostly by people familiar to him or her can enable authoritarian leader. Note that this type of leadership has its pros and cons depending on the situation.
Organizational Politics: Similar to connivance against leaders, relatives in an organization can resort to power play to undermine non-relatives, advance their own interests, and neglect their responsibilities.
Hinders Growth: A general disadvantage of nepotism is that it can hamper the growth or progress of an organization due to workforce incompetency, harms on leadership, and the possibility of corruption, among others.
In Group Wealth
One should encourage the growth of in-group wealth. One should constantly be striving to increase the financial resources of ones social group. This might, at first, seem like a normal thing to do, but most people don’t do it actively, and may not even do it passively.
Many spend much of their twenties getting friends hired at various places they work. These jobs span from menial work to law law firms to prestigious start ups. Many times a simple reference or good word gets one a shot that once seemed impossible. Nepotism, when used in this manner is a net positive for everyone involved. The friend is helping someone in the in group to succeed, the job seeker is afforded an opportunity that may have been out of reach, and the employer is presented a candidate that might fit. This last point is easy to overlook, but employers waste ample resources searching for candidates - time, money, and productivity are all drawn on when hiring.
There are a few steps that can be taken to help encourage in-group wealth. Overall, the goal is to make sure as much money as possible flows into one’s in-group, and when possible that it circulates within one’s group instead of leaving. This takes the form of supporting in group members through funding business ideas, sourcing investment ideas etc.
Is this nepotism?
Yes. However, it’s ethical nepotism. As long as one is not misrepresenting someone’s skills, quality of idea, return on investment, etc., then one is acting ethically.
We live in an environment where it can be difficult to cut through noise to find true signals. This holds true for hiring, this holds true for funding companies, this holds true for the qualities of people in general. Empower friends, limit enemies.
In most cases it’s not about being the best, but meeting a threshold. If a person or organization meets a threshold, it’s sufficient. Be truthful while pushing the limits.
Start by increasing personal wealth. One should have personal finances in order, no matter who one is or what ones does. In modernity financial health is secondary only to physical health.
Strive to get a better job. One key thing is to always be looking for the next thing while in the current thing. One is more desirable while currently employed. This can be hard. However, if one is reading this there’s at least a significant chance one is an executive, entrepreneur, or software developer. If so, when has already a chosen a career path with ample upside, so get that money.
Are interviews difficult? Yes
Do most study/practice guides and sites leave much to be desired? Yes
If one puts in the time and work will one see ones income rise? Yes
Stop complaining. A huge swathe of fields do not have a simple work on X to make Y money types of opportunities. Doing the work is what pays off in the end. One needs to continually improve ones skill set to become/stay desirable to employers. This is especially key as one ascends in ones carrier path. There are fewer and fewer spots at the top of the ladder.
Finding roles that pay better and fit the skillsets of people one knows is the the most common way that one can increase the money of people one knows. Eyes and ears open, one becomes a promoter of one’s in group to increase wealth and success. This can come in a few different forms:
Have friends join the team one is currently on, or adjacent teams at work (1st degree)
Keep an eye out for roles from other people one knows who are looking, and recommend friends to them to fill – alternately, be open about the fact one is hiring, and ask people one knows who they might recommend (2nd degree)
As one keeps an eye on opportunities in one’s field for oneself, if one sees something that one doesn’t fit but one knows someone who might – reach out to them.
One should be constantly working on all of these. When someone mentions or posts they’re looking for a job, while I’m unlikely to go job hunt for them, I’ll think about who I know that might be hiring in that area and reach out to them. When someone posts a job that they’re hiring for, I reach out to anyone I know who might be interested. It’s akin to quarterbacking things that make sense for those around you. Once one person in the group starts doing this, everyone will start doing the same.
A recommendation can cut through a lot of roadblocks. If one talks to people who screen interviews at companies, they’ll talk about all the people who can’t even reason their way through. Putting someone to the front of that line with a recommendation is perfectly legitimate.
Why, if someone is good in one field can they not be accepted or given the slightest opportunity to express and be creative in other fields? - Kanye West
As mentioned above, one wants to ensure people meet the threshold, but that threshold will vary wildly…and it’s not just about technical skill. If someone in a pre seed stage startup is hiring, one wants to make sure that whoever one recommends will mesh professionally, personally, and also have the stress capacity to handle it. If someone is looking for team members at a company with hundreds or thousands of employees, then it’s less of a big deal to check all of those boxes as the experience in an early stage growth startup and an established company are wildly different.
Hiring is difficult. It can take months to fill roles, requiring dozens to hundreds of hours of time. If one can cut significant swathes off of that time, then even if someone can’t necessarily hit the ground running, the time saved might justify their hire all the same.
Also, just like one should work on one’s own skills, one should do what one can to help people train the skills that will let them make more money. As one moves through one’s career, one will get perspectives and vantages that are not always obvious from the outside. By helping clarify what is truly needed to move into or up in a career, one can also help people just as much as if one taught them directly.
Help In-Group Ventures
Helping startups get going is substantially more difficult than pairing people with jobs. At the same time, there is a ton of funding out there in the system looking for good startups to fund, and there’s no reason that one and the people one knows shouldn’t get access to it.
When people in one’s in-group are expressing an entrepreneurial interest, encourage it. Is what they want possible? What are the holes? Do they really want to do it?
When they’re going ahead, do ones best to help it get off the ground. As above, do what one can to make sure it’s staffed with other people in one’s group, but only ones that fit. See who one can reach out to that might be able to fund it - both benefiting the venture, the capitalist, and giving oneself a chance to network further.
Always Be Casting
Be willing to look for sales for entrepreneurs and freelancers one knows for free. Certainly, not a full time job, but if one knows a good service provider, and one runs across someone who uses that type of service provider, one should bring them up. Bring business to them. In todays world the referrals one can garner go a long way, both from one’s in group and the company/service one is recommending.
If there are places people could be making money internally - common goods and services that one knows a lot of people use - then point it out. See if there’s anyone capable of doing it in one’s group. This could range from things like systems testing and security consulting, to tutoring or community management. This helps keep the money flowing into one’s group from the outside recirculating.
This isn’t an exhaustive essay. Rather, this is a mindset on how to increase one’s wealth, the wealth of people around oneself, and to keep it circulating.
Always be running a mental order book on the skills of the people one knows, and the needs of the market
Ceteris paribus (or at least surpassing the relevant bar), push people closer to oneself on the social graph to the front. A job will never ever find ‘the best person for the job’. They will find the first person that (appears to) meet the bar
Experience shows that people one knows and trusts are also the people one works best with. This applies to the workplace the same way it applies to friendship and intimate relationships.
Find those that can be trusted and keep them close whether that be at work or while at play. The importance of ascending with those that can be trusted is imperative to in group success and well being.