Jobs Filled via Social Connections Tend to Be Higher-Paid

by , Jul 27, 2012, 7:38 AM
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Social networks can offer up career opportunities, but your chances of switching jobs are better if you’re a well-paid professional, according to a new study from North Carolina State University, where researchers studies the role of social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn in so-called “informal recruitment” -- meaning when someone who isn’t looking for work is recruited for a new job.

According to the research, some 27% of jobs in the U.S. are filled through informal recruitment, but the percentage goes up significantly with the salary of the position to be filled. In other words, a high-powered sales executive is much more likely to be recruited through a social network than, say, a fast-food cashier.

In fact, the researchers were able to determine that the likelihood of a job being filled via informal recruitment through social networks increases 2% for every incremental dollar of hourly wages for the job being filled. Thus a job paying $50 per hour, or $100,000 per year, is about 86% more likely to be filled through informal recruitment than a minimum wage job paying $7.25 per hour, or $14,500 per year.

Whether this proves that the U.S. high-end job market is dominated by “nepotism” and “favoritism,” as some observers have concluded from the study results, is open to debate. This suggests that filling high-paid roles through personal connections is somehow antithetical to America’s meritocratic ethos. I disagree, for a number of reasons.

First of all, in terms of knowing what you (the employer) are getting,  hiring someone on the basis of their “on paper” qualifications, e.g. a resume or curriculum vitae, is no better -- and possibly far worse -- than hiring someone who is known to you personally, to at least some degree, through a social network. The same goes for hiring someone otherwise unknown to you on the basis of “great” recommendations: how do you, the employer, know their old boss isn’t, say, trying to shoo a loser out the door before their contract is up?  

Furthermore, many industries consist of fairly small communities where it would be impossible not to forge personal connections -- and therefore difficult to find a pool of qualified applicants who are unknown to you.

Ultimately, of course, the proof is in the pudding: if employers were unhappy with the results of informal recruitment, they would stop doing it.

5 comments on "Jobs Filled via Social Connections Tend to Be Higher-Paid".

  1. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship
    commented on: July 27, 2012 at 9:25 a.m.
    Another great example of the need to move beyond Social Marketing to becoming a truly Social Business. The opportunities are endless.
  2. Khalid Low from Reindeer Company
    commented on: July 27, 2012 at 10:29 a.m.
    "In other words, a high-powered sales executive is much more likely to be recruited through a social network than, say, a fast-food cashier." ---- This is what we call common sense. Why would anyone go to a social network to hire a fast-food cashier? Logic trumps silly researches like these. ---"Whether this proves that the U.S. high-end job market is dominated by “nepotism” and “favoritism,” as some observers have concluded from the study results, is open to debate" --- Really? Who are these goofballs doing these researches? How the fudge do you compare, say, a trained and qualified engineer (a very highly paying profession) resume to a fast-food cashier? Where is "nepotism" or "favoritism" in that?
  3. Jennifer Thompson from Insight Marketing Group
    commented on: July 27, 2012 at 10:33 a.m.
    I've owned my own business for years and am also an elected officials. I have often thought that after my term expires, I may go back into the traditional job market (being a small business owner can be a pain) and wonder how my social presence would influence my search? It's an idea that won't take shape for years but I've always had it in the back of my mind.
  4. Steve Kavetsky from AgooBiz, Inc.
    commented on: July 27, 2012 at 5:48 p.m.
    When discussing the issue of "nepotism" and "favoritism", the researchers should not be comparing apples to oranges - they shouldn't be comparing short term JOBS like min. wage cashier to long term CAREERS like high paid professionals. Why? Because the criteria and standards will never match between jobs and careers no matter what subject is being researched. As Khalid states above: it's common sense [w/o doing any research] that a cashier's JOB will not be attained through social networks the same way that a high paying professional CAREER would. Employers would choose someone they're already connected with to interview for a professional position while employers looking for a cashier could hire practically anyone with a high school diploma. The research would be more interesting if it compared recruitment for low paying JOBS w/ recruitment for high paying JOBS through social networks. Also if they analyzed lower paying CAREERS versus higher Paying CAREERS attained through social networks. Then WE'd be able to discuss whether "nepotism" and "favoritism" can be deduced from the research data. Steve Kavetsky Co-Founder/Pres. AgooBiz.com // The Social Commerce Network "WE work greater than me"
  5. E Smith from TBD
    commented on: July 31, 2012 at noon
    Anyone who links getting jobs through social networking to "favoritism" clearly has no understanding of how these tools are used by recruiters today. Good recruiters are much more likely to use the professional versions of LinkedIn or similar sites to locate candidates working at competitors, or ones with expertise in a specific area. Meanwhile, if executives want to place a family member or friend in a job, presumably they already know these people and can contact them at any time, so they don't need social networks to do so. What social media has ultimately done is provide what seems to be a "safe space" for users to post information about their backgrounds and work experience. These platforms are easy for recruiters to search, and also provide a level of verification (e.g., if a candidate says he or she works at company X with a specific title and has dozens of contacts working at company X, it's likely that claim is true). While you wouldn't want to use a tool like this for a lowlevel job (where experience matters less so any number of people could be qualified) it's great for senior searches and has NOTHING to do with favoritism.

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