Panel Paper: Getting A Job From A Friend: Weak and Strong Ties On Facebook's Social Network

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 2:45 PM
Salon B (Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Laura K. Gee, UC San Diego (UCSD)

Unemployment is currently extremely high in the United States, yet that unemployment is often concentrated geographically, by industry, or socioeconomically. It is likely that part of this concentration is due to the fact that most jobs are found through informal search methods like the help of a social contact.   Aiding a friend in getting a job can be a costly favor, and so we ask what type of relationship is most likely to result in a person getting a job with the help of a friend. We use United States Facebook user level data for over 7 million users. We assume a person has been “transmitted” their most recent job from a friend if (a) they both work at the same employer (b) they have been Facebook friends at least one year and  (c) the friend began working at the shared employer at least one year before the person’s start date.  We measure tie strength by frequency of contact on Facebook, and network overlap.  We find that most people are transmitted a job from a weak tie, but this is largely because people have many more weak ties than strong ties.  However, when we look at people who got a job from a friend, we find that they are more likely to get that job from a strong tie than a weak tie.  The major strength of weak ties appears to be that we have so many weak ties, but stronger ties are still useful in obtaining a job.