Colleague? Friend? Do I Know You?

Going to New York University, I have heard more than ever it is not about how qualified you are when it comes to getting a job, but who you know. “Its all about connections,” my friends say, “your internships and your connections are all that matter.”  This is often talking about positions in the Fashion Industry or getting that first interview in Finance.

 In this Forbe’s article, “Your Best Friends are still your best way to get a new job,” Adam Tanner explores two things: 1. How social ties can help you in terms of employment and 2.  How social media (and your self presentation) has helped researchers come to these discoveries.

 

It begins discussing the forty-year-old article written by Mark Granovetter titled “The Strength of Weak Ties.” Ultimately, this article writes that weaker ties lead to the better job positions. It has been cited as an authoratative source for the past forty years.

However, in this Forbes article, economists Laura Gee and Jason Jones report that people claim to gain employment through weak ties, but this is only because in this time period with social media, we have more weak ties than ever before.

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What exactly does this last statement mean? Think about how many times you have thought or said: “This kid I know—well, I don’t actually know him. We’re just friends on Facebook.”  These can all be considered “weak ties.” Due to social media and these surface level social ties, we identify people more as a  “Facebook friend” than a “friend,” a weak tie more than a strong tie.

 

The unpublished study performed by Gee and Jones that has helped with this reasoning titled “Social Networks and Labor Markets: How Strong Ties Relate to Job Transmission Using Facebook’s Social Network.”  The synopsis online of this study further explains that while weak ties can be helpful in gaining employment, stronger social ties will be the ties that are more likely to help you and find a better fit job.

While this information is interesting to consider as a college student looking for a future job, this article seems to indulge in a more important development that has blossomed from social media. Due to all this information online that is publicly posted on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, researchers are able to gain much more data than before.  The scale of samples are much larger and likely to be more accurate. In the 1970’s when Granovetter performed his study, it consisted of fifty four people. Studies today can utilize the Facebook profiles of  over seven hundred million users.

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Not only does this study bring in the question of who is reading your profile, and how your self-presentation is being analyzed, but it is also addressing the social ties you might not even realize you have.

I have some mixed emotions on how this article was presented. It is objective in the sense that it shows the flaws in both studies performed. However, the article begins with one main subject as an undertaking and quickly moves into another one.  Tanner spreads himself too thin in citing too many sources and casually throwing around the terms we use in class such as “social ties” without really explaining the why’s and how’s behind everything.  This piece has the potential to be two really informative pieces—however, it was simply mushed into one, leaving the reader with small bits of information. This is limited to “my information is being used in studies” and “I have a lot of facebook friends compared to actual friends. Maybe they can help me get a job.”

 

I think Tanner should have gone into more detail about the social ties rather than comparing the numbers of  samples used in the studies. I think it is fascinating that these ties have become much more complex since Facebook has been started—the spectrum of strong and weak ties has definitely larger.

In Haythornthwaites’s “Social Networks and Internet Connectivity Effects,” we read about these strong, weak, and latent ties. It describes not only the differences between all of these relationships, but how social networks are playing into these ties.

When reading the Forbe’s article, I kept thinking back to the Marwick and Boyd piece, “I Tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience.” We are always thinking about our audience when posting on Facebook. However, I personally never considered that my online material is being not only seen by surveyors, but that also my self-presentation is being used for research. 

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