In principle, meritocracy should rule academia. In practice, it depends. For example, when it comes to the job market, nobles marry nobles—they rarely mix with commoners. Your record counts, only if you are in that circle. If not, your record, well, remains record, unless you are a minority (black, Latino, and woman). Of course, they wouldn’t be so blunt about your lineage. But when you excel in every other dimension and still cannot make it, there is little doubt what truly matters.
Two cases in mind. First, RYZ, with three As, is the superstar of the field, in the record dimension. Yet he got only one campus visit in America. Second, T with two As, got only one research school campus visit; he ends up in a teaching school in LA. Had either one had blue blood, their stellar records would truly count.
A side note. T’s ideal place is San Diego. But she was crowded out by her senior, who eventually declined the slot because of salary, leaving T very frustrated. A week after T accepted the offer from LA, she got another invitation from a Canada school. It was a week too late.
[San Diego, CA, 10/2011]