Ask A Progeek: Name-Dropping

Been awhile since I’ve published one of these?  Well, we do have a new question for our progeeks: How Do You Name-Drop?

We all wonder – should we mention someone we know in our cover letters?  Should we, in short, shout out we know someone there?

Actually, let’s back up.  Is name-dropping a good idea?  The answer to that is, in general, no.

Name-dropping looks tacky.  Name-dropping looks contrived.  Name-dropping looks like you’re speaking to your relations not your abilities.  Ever heard someone say “It’s not what you know it’s who you know” when bragging about who they know?  Yeah, that could be you.

So the real question is “How do I leverage the fact I know someone at an employer?”

The first way to do it – the best way – is to contact the people in question and mention that you’re applying.  If they respond, then you find out what you can do with that connection:

  • They may take your resume in.
  • They may direct you to a given contact.
  • They may give you other application instructions.
  • They may tell you “oh, gods, no do not work here, save me!” or other useful advice.

This is how you use knowing someone at a potential employer – you contact them, connect, and have them help you.  You don’t go mentioning them in a cover letter, except . . .

Your contact or contacts may suggest you can mention them in the cover letter, interview, etc.  At that point I think it’s fully acceptable – they’re prepared, you’re covered, and it doesn’t look tacky.

Hopefully that helps.  And, you should be networking a lot anyway, so you’re already contacting people left and right, correct . . . ?

Got any more questions?  Feel free to ask me!

Steven Savage