In my job search not all "applications" are created equal. An example from earlier this week:
4 weeks ago: My dad discussed my situation with person A. This person provided contact information of person B at an aerospace related company that he used to work with.
2.5 weeks ago: After several unsuccessful calls I left a message, with person B's daughter I found out, and gave up trying to call.
Earlier this week: Person B calls me and we talk for eight minutes. He says he will pass on my information, and a resume I email, to the proper people.
The next day: Person C calls me and we talk for 20 minutes! Everything from Boy Scouts and road biking to engineering research career theory. He suggests that I should have applied earlier because they are in the process of making an offer. I did not say anything, but I did apply a month ago. He also alluded to the fact that others might have received my resume as well. So there may have been someone between person B and C. At the end he says, "probably, no I will" get back to me.
It seems that any skills I might have pale in importance compared to the generosity and connections of other people. While there is substantial merit to the recommendation of a trusted acquaintance, the relationship hinges on the worker meeting expectations. If you hire the wrong stranger, cut your losses. If you hire the wrong friend, you lose more than money. I just get frustrated.