A recent discussion arose among some of my colleagues concerning the value of name dropping by job candidates. One of my colleagues had a client who had worked with a very prominent former government official and had posed the question if dropping this person’s name during the job interview process would be helpful.
With the nation strongly divided these days along political lines, I wondered if the job seeker would be running a risk of alienating at least half of the population by dropping this formerly high-ranking official’s name. Name dropping inherently communicates that you feel the name dropped has clout, standing, or power and thus, should be admired. But what if the interviewer or hiring manager has opposite opinions of this particular individual? Are you running the risk of getting eliminated from consideration?
Everyone knows someone. The old “six degrees of separation” is pretty accurate. Just check out LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). I personally have over a million people in my network simply by mathematics. Finally, the Internet has a truly powerful tool for making connections with people for business and employment purposes. Combine that with the power of resume distribution and the Internet is a job search tool that cannot be ignored.
So what was the conclusion among career professionals about the name dropping question? It was agreed upon that probably the best idea was to include that person’s name prominently in the References document and to provide that document at the first interview. The name’s “power” would be a factor in the job search, but the possible detriment would be minimized.