Corporate nepotism or bad ass networking?

by John on September 8, 2010

During my travels last month, I had an opportunity to catch up with a former colleague and shoot the breeze over a few drinks. She’s a bright young professional, working at a great job in New York City.

During the course of our conversation we wound up talking about the people she works with, some of the peeps that she’s dating and then she asks me a question that caused me to pause and really think. Her question was “As a former recruiter, how did you deal with corporate nepotism?”

My initial reaction after a few seconds to think was “Well, I’ve never personally been the recipient of that type of referral.” I strategically networked myself, but last time I checked my old man didn’t want me to work for Bell South. In fact, he told me very bluntly that he didn’t want me working for them once I graduated from college.

She went on to tell me a very general story about an executive referral. This individual basically got their gig because of their mother’s high level recommendation. Granted, the individual has the skills to do the job, they just got leapfrogged over the other candidates because of the referral.

Eventually we had to say our goodbyes and pay the tab. However, I was left with several unanswered questions. Is it fair? Should we as HR pros acquiesce when the C suite referrals land on our desks? Is it unethical to hire the person or a career limiting move if we put up a road block?

I’m curious what you think.

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