People find jobs through relationships. Hiring is like dating. So it makes sense that when you’re job hunting, friends are an asset–Facebook friends included.
That’s the finding of Moira Burke–who’s a data scientist for the social giant–and Carnegie Mellon professor Robert Kraut. They surveyed about 3,000 Facebook users and asked them about life events, stress levels, and support from friends and family. After three months of study, they arrived at some startling conclusions, which we’ll distill here.
Sociologists and network theorists like to talk about strong ties versus weak ties—they’re associated both with sneezes and epiphanies.
Your strong ties are the people you’re close to and thus share a lot of connections with–you have the same friends, read the same news, maybe live in the same place. Weak ties are people who share less of the same social circle as you, might be in a different industry, and are exposed to different information. The prevailing network wisdom is that weak ties are good for you if you’re a-hunting, since those folks will hear about things you haven’t heard of, while you and your strong ties are getting the same signals. But Burke’s research found otherwise.
“People who talked more with strong ties were twice as likely to find a new job within three months,” she writes, “And those who talked more with weak ties were less likely to find a job.”
They found that users who talked more with strong ties had a 33.2 percent probability of finding a new job, while those that talked more with weak ties had only 6.5 percent. But why?
Burke has a few ideas.
- People don’t learn about openings from weak ties on Facebook. Are you likely to share your job loss (and job finding) quandaries with people you don’t know very well? Probably not.
- It’s motivation, not information. Burke notes that strong ties would be more willing to do the heavy lifting of helping: sending queries into their networks, forwarding resumes, giving rides.
Another interesting finding was about stress levels: The more people talked about their job woes on Facebook, the worse they felt. Burke chalks it up to unhelpful advice.
The lesson here?
- Do help your friends find jobs
- Don’t tell them it’ll be all right
Has Facebook helped you find a job? LinkedIn? Another network? Let us know in the comments.
[Image: Flickr user Tanakawho]