An acquaintance can have much more influence than a friend or relative in your next job opportunity | Technology
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Connecting on LinkedIn to a friend of a friend or an acquaintance can be more useful in helping you find a new job than connecting to a close contact, such as family members or partners. This is revealed by a study published today in the journal Science. The magic is that people outside the usual environment are the window to the world: they present new content more frequently and before the rest.
Using internal information from the professional social network LinkedIn, the group of experts made up of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, Harvard University and two members of the company itself, carried out the first experiment to large scale that proves the importance of going beyond our most immediate contacts when you want to progress professionally. To do this, the team tracked 20 million users between 2015 and 2019, of which 2 billion new connections and 600,000 new jobs were registered.
LinkedIn data scientist Karthik Rajkumar, one of the study’s authors, explains that the tracking did not modify each person’s profile, but rather used the window algorithm. people you might meet, which recommends new connections. The participating users were divided into two groups: randomly, one received more recommendations of the type weak (users with few friends in common), while the other received more of the type strong (with many friends in common or who worked in the same company, for example). And to verify that the job transition had really been the result of the connections, the experts established that a certain user X should go to work in the company of a user Y at least one year after they had connected through LinkedIn.
The results show that, in this social network, the most valuable contacts to find a better job are not the closest friends, but the so-called “weak ties”, such as two people who may not know each other, but who have something. in common. The explanation given by the authors to this phenomenon is that, at a small level of proximity, users share some contacts that can motivate them to help others and are, at the same time, distant enough so that they are not afraid to expose information. new and useful job.
And it’s not about sending and accepting thousands of invitations. The effectiveness is somewhere in the middle and is not linear. While a connection that has only one contact in common may not be very effective in the job transition, one that exceeds 30 is even less likely. According to the data, the ideal balance is around 10 shared friends.
In addition, this phenomenon does not behave in the same way in all users. It is, above all, effective among members of high-tech industries, which allows remote work, for example. For workers in analog sectors or those little affected by digitization, their acquaintances, friends and people who share the same environment are more useful for their job transition.
Siman Aral, co-author of the study and current director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, assumes that it is not yet possible to state with “100% certainty” the reason for this difference between sectors. But by comparing the way a builder and a programmer, for example, look for a job, nuances can be identified. “A builder is linked to a physical space and to a smaller network, his co-workers are usually from the same environment. A programmer, who participates in conferences and can work remotely, is more likely to meet more people and from different circles. In this way, he is more likely to achieve a new position through these new connections”, Aral qualifies.
The study also analyzes the impact of a digital tool like LinkedIn on people’s working lives. “The algorithms are directly impacting the fundamental indicators of the economy, employment and unemployment,” says the professor. But in this case, it doesn’t seem to be bad at all. As a member of the company, Rajkumar argues that LinkedIn is constantly changing its features to meet the goal of promoting job opportunities to its users. Although it is necessary that people do their part. “What I find really useful, especially if you’re in the tech sector, is keeping your connections active, talking to them, interacting,” he says. And if you want to change jobs, maybe you shouldn’t ignore the recommendations of those “people you might meet.”
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