Should You Take Advantage of Family Connections to Get a Job?

When you're seeking a summer internship or a first job out of college, you may find yourself in the situation that a parent or relative who owns their own business offers you a job. Or maybe they're high up in a company and have enough influence that they could make a strong recommendation for you. Should you accept?

There are a few factors to consider here. One is the ethical considerations — some people feel uncomfortable with the idea of taking a job that they didn't have to compete with others for, a job that was essentially handed to them. The way I think of it, there's a reason people talk about "who you know" when job searching — connections play a huge role in the way many people land their jobs. Whether you sought out those connections yourself through networking or were born into them, it comes down to the same kind of advantage.

There are plenty of other "unfair" advantages people may have when job seeking, from the ability to access the best education to privileges of race, sex, ability, or other factors that unconsciously bias hiring managers. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to ever be competing on a completely level playing field when applying for jobs, so you have to determine if you want to take advantage of what you can.

Ethical considerations aside, you have to determine if you actually want the job that's being offered to you. More than likely, it's not exactly the kind of work you had in mind in an ideal world. It's simply what's available. Are you able to land a job that's more like what you want to do? If you haven't already given it your best effort to apply for your top-choice jobs, that's where you should start. There's no reason to choose an easy path just because it's there.

Your relative may be thinking, "Oh, the economy's so bad, they'll be lucky to get any job," but that's not necessarily the case. As long as there are job openings out there, there are hiring managers looking for candidates who can make the case that they're right for the job. And if you're willing to put in the work, there's no reason that can't be you.

On the other hand, if you've been striving after the kind of job or internship you want and are still coming up empty-handed, then I would argue that some work experience is better than no work experience. Even if it's not exactly the kind of work you want to be doing, there is a lot you can learn from simply having a regular job and getting accustomed to the culture of the working world. And much of what you learn is likely to be transferrable in some way or another to the next job you seek out.

There is a lot to consider when determining whether to go into a family business or let a family member push for you to get hired at their company, and there's no one right answer. Hopefully the information above gives you some food for thought in making your own decision.