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I was recently hired for a position that I am qualified for in the software industry. However, there were no advertised vacancies for this position at the time of my hiring and I found out afterward that my cousin, who is extremely influential in the field, had asked about any potential vacancies in the company from the CEO, who is a close colleague of his, and the CEO has created a vacancy just to hire me. As someone who is relatively young but experienced, I feel that I was not hired on the basis of my worth. And I'm aware that networks are a necessary part of any job hunt, but I feel as if rather than a network I have abused my contacts.

Since there was no vacancy I almost never have work, which is depressing as I am used to extremely complex projects and tough deadlines and was a key player in my previous workplace. The company has recently offered to make me part of the permanent staff with the promise of more work (I was on probation for 6 months, same as any employee) but as I have not shown what I'm truly capable of here, I'm worried that this offer is also made out of respect for my cousin. There has been some appreciation for my efficiency in the small amount of work I have been assigned but it is far from what I am capable of.

Keeping in mind that this is the most successful software company in the country I live in, should I accept this offer or not?

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    Do you have enough flexibility in what you can do to go looking for work to do? Refactoring code, updating documentation, fixing bug #254 that got put on the backlog two years ago and never touched since... – nick012000 Jan 2 at 6:07
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    We recently did our pilot release and were pressed for time, and I helped out by working across teams and some QA and worked a few weekends. However after the release there is a lull and the team's actually overstaffed, with next to no backlog. – raphamster Jan 2 at 6:16
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    If you have the necessary experience as you said, it's Favoritism instead of Nepotism. – Chris Jan 2 at 9:13
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    Please keep in mind that many people get jobs via personal contacts. You're not alone in this, at all. This is not nepotism. If you were the CEO's nephew it might be nepotism. And if you were incompetent it would be bad nepotism. – O. Jones Jan 2 at 12:01
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    Seems fake. A real nepotism hire would be asserting how they got the job through merit. – Anonymoot Jan 2 at 12:58
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Stay and figure out something to do. This is a spectacular opportunity.

most successful software company in the country I live in

I might have a different answer were this just some random firm, but you are essentially saying that you work at your country's equivalent of Shopify (for Canada) or Tencent (China).

Are you a nepotism hire? Probably. Will anyone beyond you and a few people within the company know that? Nope. That makes you as legitimate an employee in the eyes of nearly anyone as any other person there. How you got there is irrelevant. Put it out of your mind.

You do not have to stay long, perhaps 1-2 years, but having that name on your resume would likely be invaluable down the road. Besides, having nothing formally assigned but having been placed by the CEO provides you with a tremendous opportunity.

Here is what I suggest you do instead:

  1. Find yourself a project. I have no idea what this company does, but there is something it could use. An internal tool for something? Automation of some miserable function? I used to work in innovation and I once spent a day shadowing and came back with 5 ideas for simple software that would each be worth 6 figures to my company. How do you find a project? Shadow someone in another department. Check market research for a related opportunity nobody is currently exploiting. One of the nice things about tech projects is that you don't need to get approval. Can you install software on your own machine? You are ready to go.

  2. Build up your tech skills. Most companies slack in one way or another on a part of the tech development process. Maybe they skip unit tests to meet deadlines. Maybe user experience is often ignored. Maybe they use some project management format which doesn't allow the development of deep expertise. Whatever it is, go gain some experience in that part.

  3. Develop the skills leaders appear to have. I say "appear" because you want to seem like an obvious candidate for future opportunities in the company. Public speaking and prominent presentations are typically highly valued attributes. Obviously you want to develop all leadership skills, but the key ones for this strategy are the noticeable ones.

Just approach the job differently. You are not nepotism hire just chucked onto the team. You are an autonomous hire with the freedom to seek and exploit any opportunities you find. While on the surface this sucks, it is also an opportunity to have a spectacular impact simply because you have no other duties.

  • You want to go build your own division of the company? This is your chance to do so.

  • You see an annoying problem which is costing the company money? This is your chance to spend two months solving it and sending the CEO a pitch deck on its value. You will get a promotion.

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I'd say: this is not particularly all-round nepotism, you received a preferential treatment because of your networks.

As I read, you mentioned that the vacancy was created for you, but you were not waived off the process of recruitment.

Given that the post is legit, and you did not receive any favoritism during the hiring process (Interview etc.) - I'd not be inclined to mark this case as nepotism in general. Yes, you received a somewhat preferential treatment - but as long as the process is within the company guidelines, I'd not necessary agree that this is nepotism.

I'd second what Matthew said in his answer - you're been given / presented with an opportunity to work with one of the esteemed organization, make the best out of it.

Prove to yourself and the organization that by hiring you, they made a very good decision.

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Two observations, which may or may not be relevant to your case:

  • Hiring someone for an internal position is a medium to long term decision, otherwise one would get a freelancer. Your job during the first weeks, even months, is to become part of the company. Productive work comes later. Your manager (or your manager's manager) may know about upcoming projects and keep quiet about that because they're confidential business decisions.
  • When I was involved in (low-level) hiring decisions, the personal recommendation from someone we trusted counted for a lot. Personality and work ethics are important, and they are hard to read out of a CV or university grades.
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In law, there is a concept of mens rea or guilty mind. The idea is that some crimes actually depend on the actor's state of mind. Suppose you walk off with someone else's coat at a party. That action might be innocent (you have a coat that looks just like it) or criminal ("Hey, cool coat. I bet I could pawn this for some quick cash") depending on your state of mind. If someone has to decide which it is, state of mind is judged by studying the details of the actor's actions.

Nepotism is not necessarily a crime, and networking certainly isn't, but I think there's a similar difficulty distinguishing between the two. The employer's thoughts are what make the difference between networking and nepotism. If the employer was thinking: "Hey, we're really going to need a new software engineer sometime soon. If only someone who's judgment we respect could put us in touch with a qualified candidate ..." then it was networking. If they were thinking: "Hey my buddy is a major player, and I just found out that their kid is looking for work. Let's make up a position for his kid, hire him, and rely my buddy's gratitude to get us a favor down the road ..." then it was nepotism. It could also be some complicated mixture of both motives of course.

The fact that you often lack work, and that they are not utilizing your skills, seems to point to nepotism. This is a reflection on them, not on you, and it doesn't mean that it isn't a real opportunity for you. If you can get into a position where you actually work, and exercise your skill set, it could be a great opportunity. If they just move you into Senior Architect in Charge of Sitting By the Window, you may want to move to a different company.

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This : "Since there was no vacancy I almost never have work, which is depressing" - polish your CV and start looking.

When you land a job on your own merits, you will have a feeling of self-worth, not self-doubt, as at present.

Keeping in mind that this is the most successful software company in the country I live in, should I accept this offer or not?

That might sound like a tough call to some, but you will never respect yourself if you accept & remain. It will eat away at you every day and may well lead to deeper depression.

Start your own company / work for the 2nd biggest / change country ...

Whatever you do, do something to make you feel worthwhile - something to make you glad to get out of bed every morning and head to work. Otherwise, I can't imagine your next 40 or 50 working years.

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  • Nobody ever lands a job purely on their own merits, but it is how one KEEPS a job. – Old_Lamplighter Jan 2 at 13:05
  • This seems like a very all or nothing answer, Start your own company / work for the 2nd biggest / change country would all be much easier if OP rode this job out for a few years and gained experience and the listing of the number one company on their resume. – DasBeasto Jan 2 at 18:52
  • I quite agree; but it's up to the OP to decide if his pride/shame ration will allow that time – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jan 2 at 19:30
  • If you won the lottery would you refuse to accept the money because you didn't earn it? OP has nothing to be ashamed of. – jesse_b Jan 2 at 22:56
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    @Jesse_b I agree that the OP has nothing to be ashamed of, but sitting for years in a do-nothing job is not going to pay off for a real career. Their position with a well known firm might get them interviews, but when it becomes clear they don't have much actual experience, they won't get the job. Note that the OP says that so far they aren't getting a chance to do much actual work. – Charles E. Grant Jan 3 at 1:21
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I good outcome would be if in two years time your colleagues would say “we know he was hired because of his connection, but we are still glad to have him here”.

So go and look for work. Where I work, I’d have no problem keeping you busy for the next year, and so could several colleagues of mine. It wouldn’t be the most urgent and important work, but it would be useful and make you worth your money.

So ask around. There’s always work to do.

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