To Be or Not To Be Linked: Job Search Using Online Social Networks by Unemployed Workforce
Management Science (forthcoming)
38 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2011 Last revised: 15 Jul 2017
Date Written: April 18, 2011
Prior research suggests that social connections, including acquaintances, friends, and family, are valuable in a job search process. In these studies, the size of an average job seeker’s network was much smaller and limited by the available modes of communication and the costs associated with maintaining social connections. However, the recent growth of online social networks has enabled job seekers to stay connected with many connections, weak or strong. Thus, the number of online connections – especially weak – has increased significantly. In this paper, we first examine whether an individual’s social network plays a role in driving job search behavior, taking into account online social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn) and other job search modes. Second, we examine how ties in online social networks (both weak and strong) and affect job search outcomes (modeled sequentially as job leads, interviews, and offers), and we compare the findings to job outcomes from traditional job search modes (e.g., career fairs, newspaper, Internet postings, and friends and family). To do so, we first constructed an economic model of search behavior incorporating cost and benefit functions; we then estimated the model to recover structural parameters using the survey data of 424 users. Our findings show that users are spending more time searching for jobs on social networking sites. In addition, users’ strong ties play a significant role in job search and are especially helpful in generating job leads, interviews, and offers; the weak ties, on average, are ineffective in generating positive outcomes and marginally negative in some cases.
Keywords: LinkedIn, online job search, social capital, social influence, information discovery
JEL Classification: J64, M14, D83, L86
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation