Here’s the scenario: a job vacancy needs to be filled. In general, is it better to talk to colleagues about finding a way to fill the job or to talk to the barista down at the local coffee shop where professionals gather to caffeinate?
We’re pretty sure you’ll say “the barista” because you’ve watched “Twilight Zone” and prime-time comedy shows that are filled with 90-degree turns. Your TB-based instincts are right and science backs you up. Take a bow, readers and social researchers!
What science discovered is that your “weak ties,” your “distant network” of contacts are generally better at helping you find a job or a job candidate. The original 2007-2008 study was done using job seekers, but subsequent similar studies and others extended to companies seeking applicants have verified the finding: your distant network often works better than your colleagues (“strong ties”).
The reason is simple to explain: your direct network/strong ties are closely-related to you in terms of interests and activities (work, play, community, income, geography, etc.), so the potential reach of that network is relatively small compared to the distant network/weak ties reach. Your weak ties are by definition outside of your “main” network, and the overall reach possible is thus greater.
That leads us to the barista. You, the Human Resource manager needing to find a stellar candidate, causally mention this little headache to the barista and she comes back with the name of someone who kicked tushie at another company and went freelance while a good offer came along. Or, from the other side, you’re the kick-tushie professional who drinks a double-espresso low-foam macchiato every morning at 7:45 and the barista tells you that Acme is desperately looking for someone like you.
This “distant network” is the reason classified ads for jobs still work well, placement agencies earn their fees and people use networking as a way to enhance their careers. You can’t have strong ties to everybody, but you can certainly cultivate weak ties in many different ways.
So here’s some advice based on science to enhance your prospects of filling/finding a job: the more contacts you make to help you, the better. Or you can put the whole process in the hands of a placement agency and let them put the power of the distant network to work for you. We’d recommend one, but we’ve run out of space to say who…
By Gil C. Schmidt, Sharpline Contributor
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