When I was interviewing people for jobs in my department in a UK public sector organisation one of the questions that HR wouldn’t let me ask was “Who do you know in the industry?” They thought it was elitist. I argued that while a CV/resume tells me what people have done in the past there’s more to the sum of their capabilities than just that? While you can probe people in interview about their resourcefulness it’s difficult to discover the reach and value of their various networks, online or otherwise?
HR’s argument was that you’re hiring people to do a job and that it’s difficult to value this facet of someone’s professional experience when marking one candidate against another. I argued that organisations need to consider how this might impact their departments as hiring well-connected people adds value.
It turns out that it’s one of the drawbacks with I.T. folk. As we have few professional bodies; unlike, for example, engineers who have the Institutes of Civil or Mechanical or Electrical Engineering (where membership implies a professional network) ours are a mish-mash of loose associations, user groups, conference buddies and client/supplier relationships.