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How to get a job often comes down to one elite personal asset, and many people still don’t realize it

Source | | Julia Freeland Fisher

The old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has perhaps never been more true.

Today, some estimates suggest that up to 70% of all jobs are not published on publicly available job search sites, and research has long shown that anywhere from half to upwards of 80% of jobs are filled through networking. Looking ahead to a dramatically shifting labor market, the worth of networks only stands to grow. According to experts at Deloitte’s Future of Work practice, tomorrow’s job seekers will increasingly need to “find others who can help them get better faster — small workgroups, organizations, and broader and more diverse social networks.”

Unfortunately, the value of these networks is routinely and egregiously underestimated when it comes to helping young people get ahead. Efforts to increase social mobility and access to opportunity rightfully focus on what people know and the credentials they obtain — their human capital. But that model is incomplete. It undervalues the array of professional connections into industry that young people need to compete — their social capital.

Unequal networks start early

From the zip code a child is born into, to the postsecondary education institution (or lack thereof) that she attends, to her first (and second, and third) job, every experience an individual has impacts the professional connections within her reach.

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