Want a Job? Go on Facebook

Facebook.  Love it or hate it, we all usually sign on at least occasionally.

But now a new study says that it can find you a job -- depending on who's your friend.   And where you live.

But whether you should concentrate your networking on your numerous “weak ties,” which is how most jobs are found, or a single “strong tie” who will champion your cause depends in part on the country in which you live, according to newswise.com.

Research from Tufts University found that the role of weak and strong ties in job searches is important around the world, but the value of a single strong tie is even more important for job seekers in countries with pronounced income inequality, such as South Africa, Nicaragua, and Haiti. Conversely, it turns out that a single strong tie is not as important for job seekers in countries with greater socio-economic equality, such as Sweden, Slovenia, and the Netherlands.

“In many ways, the results tell us the best way to use your network to find your job,” says lead author Laura Gee, assistant professor of economics in the School of Arts & Sciences at Tufts. “It’ll vary country to country how much extra help you will get from an individual strong tie instead of a weak tie.”

The study is built on a companion paper published last year in which Gee and her co-authors sought to use Facebook users’ anonymous data to test a 1973 study that suggested that weak ties tap into a broader network. Gee’s team’s study confirmed that, collectively, weaker ties are more helpful in the U.S. because of their number; more than 90 percent of ties on Facebook are considered weak, according to the study.

However, a strong tie is much more helpful on an individual basis perhaps because of a strong tie’s personal interest in a job seeker’s success.

 I tell everybody when I'm looking for a job.  I even got a job one time in the unemployment line -- talking to the father of an editor at a magazine for which I wanted to work.  (Facebook wasn't around then.)

The study identified three Facebook indicators to determine relationship strength:

-- Tagging someone
-- Having many friends in common with someone
-- Regularly posting on someone’s wall.

These Facebook indicators were used to assign a friendship-strength number—from one to 100—to every “friend.”

In all 55 countries, the study found that more people get jobs with employers at which their weak ties work. However, the findings show a significant variation in the added value of a single strong tie versus a single weak tie across countries. For example, a strong tie is twice as useful in South Africa than a strong tie in Sweden.

“If you went into a country with a lot of inequality and you had to choose one friend to help you find a job, you are better off choosing quality over quantity by networking with a friend you are close to rather than with one of your numerous weaker ties,” says Gee.


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