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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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Dear Career Coach,
I was hired for my new job through a family member who is close friends with the owner of the business. Although I am qualified for the job, it’s hard being the subject of gossip and innuendo.

image Dear Career Coach

I was hired for my new job through a family member who is close friends with the owner of the business. Although I am fully qualified for the job, the way I was employed has obviously caused a lot of bad feeling – particular with one individual who was bypassed for the role. I know I can contribute a lot to the business but it’s hard being the subject of gossip and innuendo. What can you advise?

Although networking can be a powerful tool in gaining insider knowledge of job opportunities and in finding employment, any nepotism arising also has the potential to lead to negative outcomes. In some cases, people recruited into positions through personal contacts, thus avoiding a competitive interview process to identify the best person for the job, can lack the necessary skills or – once hired – nakedly display their connections to the person/people of influence in a bid to intimidate others or avoid being challenged.

One approach could be to formally introduce yourself to the organisation and the key influencers. Depending on your level within the organisation, you can set up meetings with key stakeholders as a way to both hear their concerns about the aspect of the business you have been hired to manage and to outline your relevant experience for the role. Be ready to talk about your previous successes in dealing with similar challenges and how you plan to address these concerns.

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Try to build bridges with the disaffected individual who feels bypassed by your hire, making it clear that you are open to hearing their ideas and collaborating, and stress your mutual goal of improving the organisation. Treat him or her with respect without appearing to be subservient, and encourage and invite their support and involvement without creating unrealistic expectations – at the end of the day, it is now your job and it is down to you to deliver on its requirements.

No matter the circumstances of your recruitment, any new work environment will bring its challenges. However, while there will always be difficult people, most people want to enjoy their working day and to use their skills and experience in a positive way to create and maintain a successful business and a happy environment.

Now that you are in the job, there is nothing you can do to change how you were hired. Focus instead on what you can control: your performance and your attitude. Make it clear that you are not seeking special treatment and remain open to advice and suggestions, work collaboratively and be seen as supportive of others. Do your utmost to rise above the gossip and in time it will die down as people see what you can do and how you are making a positive difference.

All the best!

Need some help to solve your career dilemma? Whether you are a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, our experienced career coaches can work with you – on an individual or group basis – to help you get back on track with your career.

From online CV checking to face-to-face coaching and presentation skills training to making the right impact at interview, our careers services will help you reach your goals.

Contact us now to discuss your needs: careers@reconnectafrica.com
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