New research has shown that your usual workplace or your friends in life can have a greater impact on your career than you might expect.
LinkedIn has published (opens in a new tab) the results of a five-year project involving data from 20 million users, analyzing the two billion connections between members and the impact they have had on 600,000 new jobs on the platform.
Somewhat surprisingly, we found that weak links increase job mobility in digital industries, while strong links had the greatest impact in less digital industries. It has also been found that networking with people less known to the individual increases occupational mobility, although it has been observed that the effects wear off over time.
People on LinkedIn you may know
Relationships have been divided into two distinct categories: weak relationships (only friends and friends of friends) and strong relationships (close friends, family and colleagues).
To understand the importance of networking, study organizers – including representatives from LinkedIn, Harvard Business School and MIT – used “randomized experiments” using the “People You May Know” feature of the social media platform that suggests new connections based on shared interests, jobs and science and other algorithms. Basically, some participants saw more weak links in their recommendations, while others saw stronger links.
While we don’t know the optimal level of weak links, this study tells us that having a diverse network can be the most beneficial thing we can do by connecting with people in our own industry and people elsewhere.
Despite the positive result (that is, we now have more data on who is helping us get our dream job), the study is not without its drawbacks. Register (opens in a new tab) reveals one ethical issue raised by Michael Zimmer, director of the Data, Ethics and Society Center at Marquette University.
It says: “The findings suggest that some users had better access to employment opportunities or a significant difference in access to employment opportunities.”
However, LinkedIn researcher and one of the authors of this study, Karthik Rajkumar, says that “no one has been at a disadvantage to get a job.” Ultimately, this data will help LinkedIn and other online platforms suggest more suitable people in their algorithms.
- These are the best job sites for hiring new employees and finding your next job