Job-seekers need their “weaker ties”

This is a really interesting study that fortifies an important intuition:

A team of researchers from Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and LinkedIn recently conducted the largest experimental study to date on the impact of digital job sites on the labor market and found that weaker social connections have a greater beneficial effect on job mobility than stronger ties.

A team of Stanford, MIT, and Harvard scientists finds “weaker ties” are more beneficial for job seekers on LinkedIn. 

“A practical implication of the research is that it’s helpful to reach out to people beyond your immediate friends and colleagues when looking for a new job,” explained Erik Brynjolfsson, who is the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Professor at Stanford University. “People with whom you have weaker ties are more likely to have information or connections that are useful and relevant.”

Brynjolfsson co-led the first large-scale, longitudinal, experimental study on the “strength of weak ties,” one of the most influential social theories of the last 100 years. The “strength of weak ties” theory maintains that infrequent, arms-length relationships – known as weak ties – are more beneficial for employment opportunities, promotions, and wages than strong ties. …

The team’s findings are detailed in a paper, titled A causal test of the strength of weak ties that published this week in the journal Science.

The strength of weak ties theory is based on the idea that weak ties allow distant clusters of people to access novel information that can lead to new opportunities, innovation, and increased productivity. The author of this theory, Mark Granovetter, argued in 1973 that weak ties are particularly helpful in delivering new employment opportunities because they introduce novel labor market information to a broader social network.

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