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HomeEntertainmentQualification vrs Connection: Which one secures jobs faster?

Qualification vrs Connection: Which one secures jobs faster?

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In my line of work as a counselor and career coach, I often encounter young people who are curious about the role of qualifications and connections in securing employment.

Many of them believe that having connections is more important than having the right qualifications.

They think that if they have a family member or friend in a high position, they can secure a job or be recommended for employment, regardless of their qualifications. This belief is often fueled by the frustration of highly qualified graduates who remain unemployed or end up in low-paying jobs due to a lack of strong connections.

To situate this long-held belief among young people in the right context, I often share a simple case study. Let’s imagine that your father is the managing director of a hospital that is seeking to hire a medical doctor. However, you, as his son, have a degree in Graphic Design. Can your father employ you as a doctor in that hospital? Obviously, no.

It is clear that your father wouldn’t hire you as a doctor and expect you to perform surgical operations. Even with a strong connection like your father, the job requires specific qualifications and competence that you don’t possess. Your connection alone cannot help you in this situation. This principle applies to many other professions where qualifications are non-negotiable, such as chartered accounting, law, engineering and others.

However, it is undeniable that in countries like Ghana, where job opportunities are scarce and competition is high, connections can make a significant difference in securing employment quickly and obtaining desirable positions.

While qualifications are undoubtedly important, as illustrated in the above example, the reality is that connections can provide valuable access to hidden job opportunities that are not advertised and increase the likelihood of receiving referrals and recommendations. The strength of one’s connections can influence the speed and quality of job placements, which makes it essential for job seekers to cultivate meaningful connections that can open doors in Ghana’s challenging job market.

Therefore, when it comes to securing employment, both qualifications and connections play significant roles in the job search process. While each of the two carries its own weight, their effectiveness in securing employment can vary depending on various factors such as the industry, job market, and individual circumstances.

It is crucial to understand the advantages and limitations of qualifications and connections in order to make informed decisions and increase the chances of securing employment faster. The aim of this article is to explain the roles of qualifications and connections in securing jobs in the skewed job market of Ghana so that you, the reader, will be guided in how to conduct yourself.

Qualifications serve as an important foundation for employment. They encompass educational degrees, diplomas, certifications, technical skills, and relevant work experience. Employers heavily rely on qualifications as a screening criterion to evaluate a candidate’s suitability for a specific role. By possessing the necessary qualifications, individuals significantly enhance their chances of being shortlisted for an interview, as it demonstrates their competence and expertise in a particular field. These qualifications serve as tangible evidence of one’s knowledge and abilities, instilling confidence in employers that the candidate possesses the necessary skills to excel in the desired role.

While qualifications are important, we must also understand that people in high positions would normally love to work with people they can trust, vibe with, share warmth with, sympathise or empathise with, among others. This is where friendship ties, family bonds and connections come in. For instance, a dad is more likely to trust his own son, and therefore will be comfortable recommending him for employment than he would a stranger. Similarly, your uncle would likely appoint you to work with him in the office because he knows and trusts you, than he would a stranger.

It is therefore crucial to recognize the value of connections in the job search process. In a competitive job market, having connections can provide valuable insights, recommendations, and referrals. Knowing the right people can open doors to opportunities that may not be publicly advertised and give job seekers an advantage over others. Networking and building relationships with professionals in the desired industry can lead to valuable connections that can help individuals navigate the job market more effectively.

However, in many professions, having the necessary qualifications is non-negotiable. For example, careers in medicine require completing medical school, obtaining licenses, and obtaining specialized certifications. Similarly, positions in law and engineering typically require specific degrees and professional certifications. In these fields, qualifications are not just advantageous, but essential for employability. Employers place great importance on qualifications to ensure that candidates have the knowledge, skills, and adherence to industry standards necessary to perform the job competently and maintain professional standards.

However, connections also play a crucial role in unlocking opportunities and expediting the job search process. Building strong connections allows individuals to access exclusive insights into job openings that may not be widely advertised. Connections can provide referrals, introductions, and recommendations, giving candidates a competitive edge in a saturated job market like Ghana’s. By tapping into their network, individuals can uncover hidden job opportunities and tap into the “hidden job market.” Personal connections can vouch for a candidate’s skills and character, adding credibility and trustworthiness to their application.

Engaging in networking events, industry conferences, and online platforms plays a crucial role in expanding connections and fostering career growth. These activities provide opportunities to meet influential figures in the field, establish meaningful connections, and open doors to potential job prospects.

They also offer chances to gain industry-specific knowledge, stay updated on emerging trends, and deepen understanding of one’s profession. Networking events and conferences often feature expert speakers and thought leaders who provide valuable insights and foster professional development. Additionally, connections formed through networking can offer mentorship, guidance, and support, serving as trusted advisors throughout one’s career journey.

While connections can be advantageous in the job search process, it’s important to recognize that they alone do not guarantee employment. Connections can enhance visibility and provide access to opportunities, but qualifications and skills remain paramount for excelling in a job role. Possessing the necessary qualifications reflects the foundational knowledge and expertise required to perform effectively in a specific field.

Skills, both technical and soft, demonstrate practical abilities and competencies that enable individuals to contribute meaningfully to an organization. Relying solely on connections without the requisite qualifications may yield short-term opportunities but can hinder long-term career growth. Sustainable success in the professional space requires a balance between strong connections and a solid foundation of qualifications and skills.

The importance of qualifications and connections in securing employment varies depending on the industry, sector, and geographic region. In academic and research fields, qualifications carry substantial weight as tangible evidence of expertise and specialized knowledge. Advanced degrees, publications, and research experience are highly valued in these domains. For instance, you cannot possess a diploma certificate and be a lecturer in the university, even if your father is the vice chancellor of the university. Qualification in such field is mandatory.

However, in fields such as sales or marketing, where relationship-building and networking are crucial, connections may play a more prominent role. Success in these areas often hinges on the ability to establish connections with clients, customers, and industry influencers. Leveraging networks, attending industry events, and demonstrating strong interpersonal skills are vital for securing opportunities and thriving in sales or marketing roles. Recognizing the relative importance of qualifications and connections within specific industries can help individuals strategize their job search and career development efforts accordingly.

Given the above background, I recommend that individuals should strive for a harmonious balance between qualifications and connections. Acquiring relevant qualifications, such as degrees, certifications, and specialized skills, demonstrates competence and expertise in a given field, increasing the likelihood of being considered for job opportunities.

Additionally, actively building connections through networking events, industry conferences, biological and friendship ties, and online platforms can provide valuable opportunities. By combining qualifications and connections, individuals can enhance their visibility in the job market, gain access to hidden job opportunities, and receive recommendations and referrals. This balanced approach not only facilitates securing employment faster but also sets the stage for long-term career growth.

Even if one secures a job through connections, a commitment to continuous learning and upskilling is imperative. In the ever-evolving professional world, staying abreast of the latest industry trends, technologies, and best practices is crucial for remaining competitive and appealing to employers. Actively pursuing opportunities for professional development, such as enrolling in advanced degree programs, attending workshops, and obtaining relevant certifications, showcases a dedication to staying current and expanding one’s knowledge base.

By actively engaging in continuous learning, individuals demonstrate their adaptability, growth mindset, and willingness to acquire new skills that can contribute positively to their roles and organizations. Furthermore, continuous learning exhibits a proactive approach to professional growth, which is highly valued by employers seeking candidates who are committed to their personal and professional development.

The good news is that, connections can be built from scratch. It doesn’t always have to be on biological ties (father, uncle, sibling, etc). Building connections requires proactive effort and effective networking strategies. Engaging with professional communities, attending industry events, and leveraging online platforms can help expand one’s network.

Actively participating in relevant discussions, sharing insights and expertise, and seeking opportunities to collaborate with fellow professionals can foster meaningful connections. Attending industry events, conferences, and seminars provides valuable face-to-face interactions and networking opportunities. Leveraging online platforms, such as LinkedIn, allows individuals to connect with professionals globally and showcase their skills and experiences. Seeking out mentors and establishing relationships with experienced individuals in the field can offer valuable guidance and open doors to new opportunities.

Building connections is not a one-time effort; it requires maintenance. Staying in touch with contacts, offering assistance when feasible, and providing value to the professional community through knowledge-sharing or introductions are crucial for nurturing and strengthening connections over time. By being proactive and employing effective networking strategies, individuals can expand their professional network, increase their visibility, and tap into a wide range of opportunities for career growth.


Let me end with this, striking a balance between qualifications and connections is often the most effective approach. By acquiring relevant qualifications, gaining practical experience, and actively building connections around you, an individual can increase their chances of securing employment faster and setting themselves up for long-term career success. Acquiring relevant qualifications, such as diplomas, degrees, certifications, and practical experience, provides a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that make individuals competitive in the job market.


Additionally, actively building connections through relatives, networking, attending industry events, and leveraging online platforms creates opportunities to establish valuable relationships and gain insights into job openings that may not be publicly advertised.


By combining qualifications and connections, individuals can enhance their employability, increase their chances of securing employment faster, and position themselves for long-term career success. This holistic approach allows individuals to showcase their expertise and competence through qualifications while leveraging their network to access hidden job opportunities, receive recommendations, and gain support in navigating their professional journey.


Thank you for reading today’s episode. Continue to follow the insightful articles I share on this page.

See you.

Author: Daniel Fenyi

Email: fenyigh@gmail.com

The author is a licensed counselor and career coach, who guides the youth and students through his writings.


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