Can Talking to Your Facebook Friends Help You Find a Job?

By Brittany Walters-Bearden March 15, 2013

Finding a job through interactions on social networking sites is becoming increasingly popular, and it isn’t just limited to LinkedIn anymore. Moira Burke, of Facebook, and Robert Kraut, of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, teamed up to create a whitepaper examining the influence of communicating with Facebook friends after losing a job.

The piece is called, “Using Facebook after Losing a Job: Differential Benefits of Strong and Weak Ties.”

In a note on Facebook, Moira Burke explained the difference between strong ties and weak ties: strong ties are close friends and family members, whereas weak ties are acquaintances; “Think- your sister's roommate, or that random friend-of-a-friend you met at a party.” 

Traditional wisdom indicates that since most people know the same people as their strong ties do and weak ties come from an array of backgrounds and know vastly different people, weak ties are, in fact, more often the source of a job lead than strong ties.

Burke and Kraut surveyed 3,000 Facebook users about their use of Facebook to cope with major life changes. Among them were 169 people who had lost a job. The duo took it a step further, repeating the survey once a month over the course of three months.

What they found went against traditional wisdom: “Users who spoke more than average with their strong ties were about twice as likely to find a new job than the average job-seeker, while those who talked more than average with weak ties were half as likely.” Burke asserted that this may be because Facebook users do not often share personal details, like loss of employment with their weak ties, and they are more likely to talk about “less important topics, like the Superbowl or their vacation.” 

Strong ties are more likely to show support, she noted, if not offer job leads. “They show concern, give you rides to interviews, and let you vent your worries.”

Burke and Kraut’s study held a twofold interest: First, it revealed how people are using social media and how social media is impacting their lives, and second, it demonstrated how Facebook can serve as a powerful tool for surveying. 

As social media continues to evolve, so do its uses.

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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