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How Both Weak and Strong Ties Help in the Search for a Job


This article published by Facebook delves into how strong and weak ties help a person with finding a new job. According to the authors, previous research has shown that most people find a job through one of their numerous weak ties, while previous research has also shown that an individual strong tie is more likely to help a friend in the job search than a weaker tie is. Because these results seem contradictory, the authors decided to explore in which specific ways strong and weak ties are helpful in the job search. In order to establish whether or not a friend helped another friend get a job, the authors used a proxy of whether a person eventually ended up working at the same place as a pre-existing Facebook friend. The authors measured the strength of the ties through how often the person tagged the job-helper in photos, how often the job-helper wrote on the person’s wall, and how many mutual friends they had. The authors then found that over 90% job-helping friends were weaker ties, however, based on the researcher’s metric, most of the friends in the study were weak ties. Based on these results, the authors set out to test whether weak ties are individually useful, or just collectively useful. To test this, the authors assigned a probability of helping to each friend by using a regression. The authors found that the stronger ties had higher probabilities of helping a person find a job, meaning a stronger tie was more likely to be helpful than an individual weaker tie. Thus, the results of this study show that weaker ties are helpful because they are numerous, but a singler strong time is more useful in the job search than a single weak tie.


In class, we learned about Granovetter’s study that found that more people found their jobs through a weak tie rather than through a strong tie. This study set out to see if Granovetter’s findings still hold, and to update what he found. It was interesting to see that although what Granovetter found still holds true, there is a case to be made for the helpfulness of strong ties in the job search. In class, we also discussed how there is no universal classification for what makes a tie strong vs. weak. Instead, a classification must be decided upon for each network. In the case of this study, because the data was from Facebook, the authors were able to classify the strength of the ties using metrics that were relevant to the network, meaning photo tagging, wall communication, and mutual friends. Overall, this article is extremely relevant to class topics, because not only is it research that is directly built off of Granovetter’s findings, but also directly applies tie strength to a social network we are all familiar with. 


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September 2019