Mark Granovetter coined the phrase “the strength of weak ties” in 1973 to describe a job-seeking phenomenon: that a large network of acquaintances is a powerful job-hunting tool. Our closest friends know many of the same people we know, he argued. But our more distant friends have different connections – and those connections can be invaluable for job-seekers.
Nearly 40 years later, Facebook has one billion monthly active users, making it easier than ever to communicate with every level of our social networks – from our inner circles to our most casual acquaintances. And DOL is working with Facebook and other partners to help users capitalize on their connections to find jobs.
Last year, DOL joined the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), DirectEmployers Association, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and Facebook to create the Social Jobs Partnership – an initiative to help job-seekers leverage their online networks to support their job searches. Last week, the partners released a Facebook app that will help users share more than 1.7 million job opportunities from five recruiting organizations.
At the Department of Labor, connecting skilled workers with job opportunities is one of our top priorities. Our Employment and Training Administration has multiple programs to help workers assess their skills, access career resources, gain experience and credentials, and find job openings. And agencies like the Office of Disability Employment Policy, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service and Women’s Bureau address employment challenges that affect specific worker demographic groups.
The Social Jobs Partnership is all about connections: connecting the public and private sectors, connecting employers and workers, and connecting existing skills with business needs.
This app will help job-seekers take advantage of those connections to find good jobs – and those connections are broad. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center report, “at two degrees of separation (friends of friends), Facebook users surveyed on average can reach 156,569 other Facebook users.” And a recent NACE survey found that 50 percent of employers use Facebook in their hiring processes.
Put another way, by facilitating connections within a network of more than 150,000 people and 1.7 million jobs, this app transforms “weak ties” into an incredibly strong tool for workers and employers alike.