The Strength of Many Kinds of Ties: Unpacking the Role of Social Contacts Across Stages of the Job Search Process


Organization Science

July-August 2015, vol. 26, n°4, pp.1040-1058

Departments: Management & Human Resources, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Job search, Stage process, Matching, External labor market, Careers, Mobility, Managerial jobs, MBA, Occupations, Social contacts, Social networks, Tie strength, Network range

The topic of job mobility has received increasing attention in recent years. Yet, surprising in light of the wealth ofresearch on social networks and job attainment, we do not have a unified model of the impact of different kinds ofsocial contacts on job search success. In this paper I show that contacts are differently beneficial for job seekers depending on the stage of the job search process that job seekers are engaged in. Specifically, three stages of the job search process can be distinguished in which social contacts fulfill different roles for the job seekers: deciding the types of jobs for which to apply, submitting job applications, and preparing for interviews. I propose that contacts who are spread across different occupations are conducive to applying to more types of jobs, yet it is contacts who are more focused across occupations that are beneficial for being invited to more interviews—relative to the number of job types applied for—and for converting the interviews into offers. In addition, contacts with lower relationship depth with the job seeker are more helpful for getting invited to interviews, whereas contacts who have more frequent interactions with the job seeker are more helpful for converting interviews into offers. Analyses using a unique longitudinal data set on the job searches of 226 participants in an MBA program offer robust evidence in support of the hypotheses. The results suggest that external mobility is best enabled when job seekers engage with—and learn from—different kinds of contacts across stages of the job search process