January 13, 2016

Social Networks and Labor Markets: How Strong Ties Relate to Job Transmission On Facebook’s Social Network

Journal of Labor Economics

By: Moira Burke

Abstract

People commonly find jobs through their social networks. The “strength of weak ties” hypothesis suggests that people would be more likely to find jobs through weak ties (acquaintances) rather than strong ties (close friends), because weak ties provide new information and connect you to novel opportunities. However, there’s been little empirical evidence that this theory is correct. This is an observational study of the social networks of 1.4 million US Facebook users who list an employer in their profile. We find that people are more likely to find new jobs through weak ties, simply because there are far more weak ties than strong ties in a network. However, any individual strong tie is more likely than any individual weak tie to be helpful in the job search.