To name drop or not to name drop – that is the question. As a film buff, I often play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but does the concept of six degrees of separation really exist? 100%. Because of this, name dropping can help propel your job search, but only if done properly.
Name dropping can get your foot in the door with a company. Recruiters receive hundreds of resumes from job seekers and sometimes a mutual connection can pull you out of the general stack of applications and land you on the desk of the hiring manager, thus increasing the chances of you scoring an interview. If you’re going to go this route, make sure that you not only have a true relationship/connection with this person, but that you have also received permission to reference their name when applying for jobs.
Name dropping can also be your worst enemy in your job search. Rather then relying on your skills and abilities, it serves as an attempt to make you appear well connected. Recruiters may ask themselves, “Why can’t this candidate stand on their own two feet?” Also expect that the company will follow-up with the contact you reference. If you don’t really know this person or if they have a bad reputation, it can negatively impact your ability to move forward in the company’s recruitment process, regardless of your past performance.
One of my students recently experienced first-hand the negative implications of name dropping. He had secured an interview for a summer internship within my former industry of employment. In his interview and thank-you letter he dropped my name, stating that I had referred him to the position, speaking highly of our relationship. The hiring manager recognized my name and followed up with me for a reference; not only was I caught off-guard, but I could not even speak on behalf of this student, as we had never met/worked together previously (he had only seen me lecture once in a 300-person classroom). The company ended up not extending an offer to this student; if he lied about this, how could he be trusted as an intern?
Do you need to leverage your contacts in your job and/or internship search? Without a doubt, however the moral of this post is to be aware that while name dropping can help break down barriers and open doors, you need to be careful whose name you drop and how you drop it, as it may not always be to your advantage.
Heather currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Services for the Undergraduate Career Services Office in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. In her role, Heather guides students throughout their career development, lectures on career-related topics and personal branding, presents career workshops for students, supervises a team of career coaches, and develops/manages the social media efforts for her office. Before making the switch to Student Affairs, Heather worked in Marketing, Sales, and Promotion within the Music & Entertainment industry. Originally from New Jersey, Heather attended Indiana University for her undergraduate degree and The Ohio State University for her graduate studies. You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.