(TND) — Seek out those "weak ties" to land your next job, according to a new study from LinkedIn.
The social media networking platform carried out experiments with about 20 million users over five years to prove a theory that weak ties are stronger at opening doors than strong ties, at least when it comes to jobs.
Multiple large-scale randomized experiments were carried out on LinkedIn’s “People You May Know” algorithm, according to the study published in the journal Science.
The “People You May Know” algorithm suggests new connections to users. The experiments randomly varied the prevalence of “weak” ties in users’ networks to test the theory that connections with industry acquaintances, and not close colleagues, were best at presenting opportunities for career advancement.
“Our study recently published in Science found that weak ties in your professional network are a powerful way to find a job,” wrote one of the authors of the study, LinkedIn data scientist Karthik Rajkumar. “If even one person reaches out to a weak tie in their professional network and secures a job thanks to our study, then our work has been a success.”
The results make sense, said Andrew Selepak, coordinator of the graduate program in social media at the University of Florida.
He also said the study helps LinkedIn prove its value to users.
Selepak said people have both strong and weak ties on social media. The strong ties are usually on Facebook, or maybe Instagram, with family, friends and coworkers. These are the folks with whom you’re more likely to have an offline relationship.
The weak ties are LinkedIn’s specialty. These are people with ties to a certain company or industry who aren’t already in the user’s social circles.
“They know other people. They know of other opportunities. They work in other fields,” Selepak said. “And they, therefore, may have more and different potential opportunities for you when it comes to time to apply for a job or find new opportunities for you when it comes to maybe school, maybe volunteer opportunities, maybe charity work.”
He said the results of the study are “intuitive” in how we use LinkedIn as opposed to other social platforms, and he said LinkedIn is “built around this very concept.”
LinkedIn collects a range of user data, which it says it uses “to conduct research and development for our Services in order to provide you and others with a better, more intuitive and personalized experience, drive membership growth and engagement on our Services, and help connect professionals to each other and to economic opportunity.”
Selepak said LinkedIn’s experiments in this situation aren’t out of the ordinary for a social media platform, and users may take solace that the data for the 20 million people involved in the experiments was used internally.
“At the end of the day, I think everyone at least has some understanding that what we do online is being tracked, is being measured, is being bought and sold, and this is just research that uses this same information, and particularly the platform itself using this information in a study,” he said.