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The Unexpected Power of Weak Ties

People Outside Your Social Circle Can Help With Your Job Search

Two metal chains tied together with a small rope

Finding a job depends in part on your social network, but the nature of social networks has changed. Now that we connect online, people you know less well may be able to help more than you realize.

Back in the days before cellphones, extending your social network required a business card and a handshake—and maybe picking up the lunch tab. Now, though, online social and career sites allow us to amass dozens of professional and personal contacts with a click or a tap. These contacts tend to fall into two groups: strong ties, those you see often and with whom you socialize; and weak ties, those you see less often and know less well.

Most jobseekers know that networking is critical for finding a job, and many would readily acknowledge that strong ties would likely provide the most help. But recent research compiled by AARP shows that weak ties are just as effective. A weak tie is just as likely to give you a job lead as a strong tie. Here’s why:

  • Weak ties have access to information and contacts that you might not have.
  • Weak ties have a different sphere of influence than you and your strong ties.
  • For minorities and immigrants, weak ties can be bridges to otherwise unavailable information.
  • Weak ties who have a job can be the ladder for climbing out of unemployment into the hidden job market.

This research was compiled from the sources in the References by High Bandwidth for Ramsey Alwin, AARP Thought Leadership. For more information, please contact Lona Choi-Allum at LAllum@aarp.org. For media inquiries, contact media@aarp.org.

 

Suggested Citation:

Choi-Allum, Lona. The Unexpected Power of Weak Ties. Washington, DC: AARP Research, June 2019. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00320.001