According to latest research, the best thing many jobseekers can do to help find work, is turn to your mutual acquaintances or colleagues rather than your family members or friends. The study analysed data from 20 million LinkedIn members over five years and found infrequent arm’s-length relationships—known as weak ties—are more beneficial for employment opportunities, promotions, and wages than strong family and friends ties.
These weak ties are thought to be beneficial because they provide a bridge between clusters of people who know each other, allowing new information and ideas to flow. “If you are the one in your cluster that has the weak tie bridges to other clusters, you see novel information first, so you have an opportunity to act on that before other people,” said Prof Sinan Aral, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is a co-author of the research. He said one example was the chance of a new job.
Aral and colleagues report how they carried out two experiments, one involving more than 4 million LinkedIn members in 2015 and one involving more than 16 million members in 2019.
In both, the team tweaked the algorithms behind a tool called “People You May Know” to ensure members were randomly recommended connections with either people who had few mutual contacts, known as weak ties, or people who many contacts in common with them, known as strong ties. Once a member had accepted a recommendation, the team tracked how many messages were sent between the pair. They also looked at whether members applied for or moved jobs.
The team found that the probability of a LinkedIn member joining the same company as their new contact was higher when the number of contacts they shared was higher. However, once this number exceeded 10 mutual contacts, the probability fell.
The results of the study “provided experimental causal evidence supporting the strength of weak ties,” according to a report of the study published in Science. So, if you’re a jobseeker you need to check out your weak ties on LinkedIn, they could be the key to your next move!