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Mega LinkedIn Study Reveals Which Connections Are Better While Job Hunting

A mega study conducted by LinkedIn has some profound insight into the entire cavalcade of head hunters and job hunters in the platform. So what does the study reveal? That your close connections ain’t that helpful when it comes to getting a new gig. It is rather (quite often) acquaintances whom you barely know. The study titled ‘A causal test of the strength of weak ties’, it studies the influence of weak associations and its implications on success and failure. It was published in the research journal Science co-authored by researchers from LinkedIn, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Harvard Business School . But what does this even mean?

It basically tells that your closer connections (aka friends) are of no use when it comes to job hunting. Instead it’s your weaker ties (aka acquaintances) that are the most impactful. How so? Your closest connection probably knows almost everything there is to know about their jobs and package. Usually there’s nothing new to be discovered in their company. Rather, your acquaintances provide you with more opportunities to discover new offerings. So the weaker the ties, the better the prospect of bumping into a job prospect. It is known as the strength of weak ties, a rather influential social-scientific theory.

A large scale, randomized experiment was conducted on LinkedIn’s ‘People You May Know’ algorithm to test this theory of the strength of weak ties. It proved that weaker ties improved or increased job transmission. However this is sustained only to a certain point, after which the strength diminishes. Still it proved that weakest ties have the strongest impact. Now you know what to do with your LinkedIn connection. Or probably you already knew by intuition.

The experiment was conducted over a batch of over 20 million users over a period of 5 years from 2015 till 2019. After the publication, the ethics of study have been questioned. While product managers support the study as standard AB testing being demonized by media houses. What is your take on the study?


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