I know in industry, it's all about connections "It's not what you know; it's who you know." To what extent is that true in academic hiring?

  • 1
    and how do you know this is uniformly true in industry?
    – kodlu
    Jul 27 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately perhaps, connections and networking matter a lot in academia. If you are well-connected:

  • you will be invited to give talks (at conferences, or informally);
  • you will be invited to be a reviewer (for papers or grants), which gives you advanced knowledge of the latest research in the field, and a great power over what gets published or even funded;
  • you might obtain a job thanks to your connections (e.g. a postdoc);
  • etc.

However, people who know you need to be able to have nice things to say about you, so you do also need to know your stuff, to some extent. But given that everyone generally does know their stuff, connections probably do make a big difference in an academic career.

(source: my personal experience of ~10 y in academia.)

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    In my experience (and maybe it depends on field), only a small percentage of math PhDs have the creativity necessary for significant original mathematical research. Almost no (but not absolutely no) PhDs from outside the top 20 or so programs have this capability. So "everyone generally does know their stuff" is not true. Jul 26 at 0:27
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    Fair enough, let's say that 'know their stuff' encompasses the knowledge you need to complete your PhD, regardless of field. Also, that is another (and interesting) question, but if you don't need creativity to complete a PhD in maths, do you really need it to proceed post-PhD in a maths academic path? So in the end does it really matter to have it or not?
    – leonos
    Jul 26 at 0:47
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    if you want a career where research is a significant part of your responsibilities, you need that creativity. Most math PhDs (even those with this creativity) do not manage to get a career where math research is a significant part of their responsibilities, though many end up in teaching positions or industry positions where the experience of research they got during their PhD (with most of the necessary creativity provided by their advisor) is useful. Jul 26 at 0:59

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