In our free market society, we paint a picture of a world where anyone can step up and get any job, as long as they're qualified. In reality, there are gatekeepers in many industries that decide who's worth hiring. Try to meet these people when you're building your network.
Photo by Matías Ávalos.
As business site Entrepreneur points out, every industry has an established old guard that people listen to. In creative fields, it may be a high-profile big name, in others it might just be the inner circle of management. Regardless, these "gatekeepers" are the ones who have the influence to vouch for your work in the field you're interested in. If you want to move up, find who those people are in your field and impress them:
Are we doomed to failure if we don't live in the right place at the right time? Of course not. But networks matter, maybe more than we care to admit. Vincent van Gogh's work matured much more quickly once he met the French Impressionists. And why wouldn't it? He now had a field of gatekeepers who both critiqued and validated his work.
Gatekeepers aren't limited to the people who do the hiring, either. Anyone who's established in a field, whose opinion is widely respected, can help get you a foot in the door. If you're trying to get a job in a particular field, it doesn't help to know some people in that field that recognise the quality of your work and can recommend you when the time comes.
The Unfair Truth About How Creative People Succeed [Entrepreneur]