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Do Job-Seekers Benefit from Contacts? A Within-Individual Test with Contemporaneous Searches


Elena Obukhova


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

George Lan


MIT Sloan School of Management

May 24, 2012

MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4971-12

Abstract:     
While it is intuitively plausible that using contacts in a job search benefits a job-seeker, studies of job-seekers are plagued by theoretical disagreement and inconclusive empirical evidence. In particular, the evidence from between-individual studies — studies that compare outcomes for different individuals — suggests that the relationship between a job-seeker’s social capital and her labor-market outcomes might be spurious. In this paper we exploit a strategic research setting, the school-to-work transition of 291 university graduates who engaged in 3,112 contemporaneous job searches, to conduct a within-individual study comparing outcomes of job searches through contacts and through formal methods for the same individual. We find that even while between-individual tests indicate that contacts do not matter, within-individual tests indicate that job-seekers do benefit from using contacts. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for the literatures on job search and social networks.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: Labor markets, social capital, job search, network causality, school-to-work transition

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Date posted: November 8, 2011 ; Last revised: December 11, 2013

Suggested Citation

Obukhova, Elena and Lan, George, Do Job-Seekers Benefit from Contacts? A Within-Individual Test with Contemporaneous Searches (May 24, 2012). MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4971-12. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1956628 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1956628

Contact Information

Elena Obukhova
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )
77 Massachusetts Ave.
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
George Lan (Contact Author)
MIT Sloan School of Management ( email )
United States
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