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Cronyism and Nepotism in Job Market

  1. ...my qualifications alone (i.e. the honest way)

    7 vote(s)
  2. ...a friend (cronyism) or relative (nepotism)

    1 vote(s)
  3. ...affirmative action

    1 vote(s)
  1. Aug 21, 2015 #1
    I would like to know people's experiences in how they were able to gain employment (see poll). Any thoughts or comments people might have are openly welcomed.

    I ask because I am a recent MecE grad. I graduated top of my class from a strong program. Right now the economy is not great for MecE guys where I live. Many of my colleagues who I graduated with that are working in good entry-level positions with solid pay got their positions through connections with relatives or friends/associates. For example, one guy's dad is a director of a company and he got on with them right away. I'll add that his brother, who is also a MecE and graduated two years ago, is also with the company (no surprise there). Another guy has an uncle who is vice-president of a company and he got on with them right away.

    The only guys I know who got jobs the honest way are working for next to nothing for companies who don't treat their employees all that well doing menial work they are overqualified for.

    I haven't found a job. Had a few interviews but it hasn't led to anything. I wish my dad was a higher up in some company that has engineering work. Then I'd be in business.

    It bothers me that the "best man for the job" thing doesn't exist anymore. Cronyism and nepotism together with affirmative action have pretty much killed that.

    Makes me sick.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2015 #2


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    Not well-made poll. Often a combination of reasons influences getting a job. Sometimes people know each other between your previous company and a prospetive company. The prospective company interviews you, while you do not even know who knows each other between the two companies; you do well in the interview and in a couple of days, the prospective company hires you.
  4. Aug 21, 2015 #3
    My previous employer had a "recommend a friend" scheme. If an employee recommended a friend and that friend got the job, the employee got £500.

    Lots of big companies, especially ones that are intimately tied to local communities, work like extended families. The foreman gets his nephew an apprenticeship etc. I think that is a good thing. Its up to employers to ensure they have the right mix of people. Someone with the best qualifications, the best paperwork, is not always, or even rarely, the best candidate for some jobs. You need to fit in.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
  5. Aug 21, 2015 #4
    Best man for the job is rarely the man with the best qualifications.

    Your boss needs to work with you. He or she might be spending more time with you than they spend with their spouse and children, and certainly more time than with their friends. If they don't like you, then that's the end of your chance of a job. A good working relationship and good working environment is much more than just having the right qualifications. Because there is never the "best man for the job"; there is always somebody better than you, somebody that could do your job in your stead. Nobody is irreplaceable.

    Judging a candidates suitability is much more abstract and filled with human judgements than ticking a checklist. A computer could do that. I've had quite a few jobs now (Im 44); and after a while I could tell during the interview whether I was likely to get the job: has the interview moved from boring formality to having a chat? Is there a bit of banter and laughter? These things are all important.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
  6. Aug 21, 2015 #5


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    Coreluccio, it might be worth taking a hard look at your attitude as that may have something to do with you not being able to land a job.

    Have you never heard of networking?

    When you're hiring someone for a position there are a lot of factors that an employer has to consider. Qualifications are one aspect, an in technical positions they are necessary, but they are not always sufficient. Among the qualified people you then have to choose the person who is best going to mesh with your team to accomplish your goals. Sometimes you need someone who is going to demonstrate initiative. Sometimes you want someone who is not to independent and who can focus on an assigned task. Sometimes you want someone who can socialize and help you land clients. Sometimes you want to avoid someone who would rather be talking than sitting at a computer screen pounding out code.

    The point is that all of these "soft" skills are difficult to assess through a single interview and they don't come across on a resume at all. The best way to figure them out is through direct experience with the candidate. And often even someone who is not exactly what you want, but with flaws you know and can work with is better than rolling the dice. So you go with the person that's worked with you as an intern, or the person that comes recommended from the people on your hiring committee.
  7. Aug 21, 2015 #6


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    Choppy and William White,

    I understand what both of you are saying and largely agree with you, but I suspect that the OP is frustrated by what he sees as an unfair advantage for those with the "family connections" among engineering graduates versus those who do not. If one comes from a poor family (or even a middle class family whose members do not have STEM type jobs), it can be very difficult for that individual to be able to develop the network that would help the individual find a suitable position upon graduation.

    To the OP,

    You claim that you are a recent engineering graduate. Did you not have any internship experiences during your study? Most schools that I'm familiar with in Canada often provide either a co-op type work experience or internship opportunities for their students, and I assume the situation wouldn't be that different in the US (assuming that you are based in the US). My overall opinion is that the best place to help develop networks/connections is through that internship, because that experience demonstrates what you are capable of as an employee, not simply as a student.

    It is my opinion that every engineering student (and preferably every STEM student) should be required to pursue a co-op placement or internship as a condition of graduation, as this would provide the said student with some preliminary work experience that would be beneficial upon graduation (the University of Waterloo in Canada does this for its engineering students).
  8. Aug 21, 2015 #7
    I agree to an extent - but I also see, amongst graduates an expectation of a good job straight from school. There is a total lack of understanding that it might be better to start with an engineering firm in a menial role and get promoted from within.

    I know a divisional manager of a FTSE company that started digging roads for engineering firms, just to get in the door. I came from what most Americans would call a "lower class family" (council house, father was a labourer). I did not expect a decent job at 16 when I left school, and did not whinge when others got jobs instead of me; and maybe that worked in my favour.

    Sure, the world is unfair. And its good to make it fairer.

    But fairness is not just about qualifications. Its about drive and ambition and the ability to get on too.
  9. Aug 21, 2015 #8
    This is an important point, and applicants should apply it to the interview process.

    By the time you're interviewing in person, you've hopefully demonstrated, via resume and the phone interview, you have many of the qualifications for the job.

    In person, they're checking to see if you're someone they can actually stand to work with. A hiring manager can sink a team by adding someone with great qualifications but who is poison to work with to the talent pool. The in-person interview is partly to judge whether this is likely to happen.
  10. Aug 21, 2015 #9
    On another note, I am shocked - shocked - to find no one has voted that they got their job through cronyism and nepotism. How many of those votes should we expect? A mystery.
  11. Aug 21, 2015 #10
    I got a previous job through cronyism - if you define cronyism as being recommended.
  12. Aug 21, 2015 #11


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    I agree with this. What I was taking issue with is the attitude that if someone gets a job through a connection that this is necessarily dishonest. I agree that it can happen in a dishonest manner where someone gets a job completely because of connections and not qualifications, but I think it's only going to hurt the OP if he or she is painting the world as necessarily operating this way.
  13. Aug 21, 2015 #12
    i think as one gets older realpolitik replaces idealism.

    Yes, the world is massively unfair; yes other people will get jobs that you are better suited and qualified to do.

    You just have to do the very best you can. Start at the bottom, you have got a long career ahead of you. Walk before you can run. Network. Join engineering institutes, go to local meetings, get involved.
  14. Aug 21, 2015 #13
    I say all of the above. I got my current position by simply applying online and being hired through the usual process and based on my own qualifications. However all the projects and internships you might see on my resume that I used to build those qualifications I got into through some form of what the OP calls 'cronyism'. This is a silly, immature way of describing the situation; the best person for any one job isn't always the one that hit a check mark against all of the laundry list of tasks you read on the job description. The 'honest' way and the 'cronyism' way are not mutually exclusive.
  15. Aug 22, 2015 #14


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    To the OP,

    I had a chance to re-review the previous thread you had started and this quote jumped right out at me (surprised I missed it the first time):

    "I've had interviews, but I think employers do pick up on the fact that something about me is not right. I'm not passionate about engineering. They can understand it simply from the tone of my voice. I feel in many ways depressed simply because I feel like I'm not following my heart."


    Should it surprise you or anyone else that if you don't come across as being enthusiastic or energetic during an interview, that the interviewer won't be especially enthusiastic to want to hire you? So frankly, your attitude more than anything else is blocking you from getting a job. If you want to work in engineering, then change your attitude and keep applying, and network. If you don't, then find something else that you may like or enjoy (or at the very least tolerate).
  16. Aug 22, 2015 #15


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    I am puzzled as to why "through affirmative action" is not "the honest way". It is, after all, simply "NOT through cronyism and nepotism".

    Aren't you really asking "how many people agree with my prejudices"?
  17. Aug 22, 2015 #16
    Thats a good point Halls,

    Compare the poor kid from a chaotic family; that doesn't have a quiet table for the kind to do homework; that has to spend their time looking after younger siblings. I grew up with plenty of kids like that. Absolutely no chance of getting good qualifications. The dice are loaded against them from the minute they are conceived. Compare with the middle class kid from good street, nice nurturing family, good school, help with homework etc.

    Somebody who has graduated with a good engineering degree has had a better start in life than nearly everybody else on the planet. But you are still starting in life, and are at the bottom rung of the career ladder. You have to use your skills and tenacity to build that career.
  18. Aug 31, 2015 #17
    I can agree with the sentiment of your post and I've seen very few people get permanent positions without some kind of recommendation. Rather temporary positions before getting a permanent position. And I But from this passage it strikes me that you should have two great connections here, and the other cograduates with jobs. Will they recommend you for a job at their company, and if not why (No need to answer) ?
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