back to article LinkedIn study suggests it's not your best pals who will help get you that next job

A study of 20 million LinkedIn users over five years has raised a few eyebrows as it involved quietly analyzing people's connection suggestions to see how that would reflect in their career paths. The experiment, the results of which were published in Science this month, sought to determine whether acquaintances on LinkedIn, …

  1. goldcd

    LinkedIn concludes

    the best relationships are the ones they have a lot of.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: LinkedIn concludes

      Despite a few moves since I joined, LinkedIn has yet to get me a job, largely because I prefer to deal directly with human beings. Even if they do work in recruitment.

      1. AVee

        Re: LinkedIn concludes

        Same here, and LinkedIn has no knowledge about how I found my jobs. But research now proves that people who use LinkedIn to to find jobs often use LinkedIn to find jobs.

        The selection bias in this research is huge, that's the first problem. The second problem is the assumption that LinkedIn can properly determine which are strong and weak connections. You might interact with someone on a daily basis without LinkedIn knowing about it...

  2. Bartholomew Bronze badge

    More money for lawyers

    LinkedIn publicly admit lack of equality on platform for previous five years, sued in the US in 3...2...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely not ?

    LinkedIn has slowly deteriorated into mush. Employers probably still like the idea of staff being on it, as it bigs up the company for no cost. However it's just become a swirling cesspool of recruiters and spammers. Whose only possible way of "standing out" is (yet) another "whacky" misspelling.

    Proof, if it were needed, about things tending towards chaos.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely not ?

      My employer actively encourages its people not to be on it, as it just serves to aid foreign intelligence in piecing together the organisational structure and who has access to what classified information. That may or may not be overblown, but it is a good reason to be able to say 'no' when friends ask why they can't 'connect' with me. It's telling that everyone around my place of work I hear talk about LinkedIn are the seagull management types.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Surely not ?

        Your organisation is concerned about poachers and head hunters.

        I absolutely resent that it has become a near de-facto requirement and virtually everyone expects it. I absolutely refuse to use it, I've beaten off Faecebook, I've avoided WhatsCrap and I'll avoid this. Although I have to admit I do have the advantage of not being interested in the job market.

  4. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge


    [Disclaimer: the paper seems to be behind a paywall, so I have not read it.]

    Wouldn't close friends, I dunno, call or email or whatsapp each other to ask for an introduction to an interesting company or a suitable prospective hire? As opposed to exchanging information on LinkedIn?

    This would be less probable with weaker connections, and the weakest ones would tail off as observed.

    Sounds to me that this is a possible explanation for the observed effect.

    1. badflorist Silver badge

      Re: Bias?

      "Not-real-friends" is the answer. If you have "weaker connections" or anti-social traits and you're getting jobs through LinkedIn's "friends"... they're not really your friends. A real friend that gets you a job doesn't use LinkedIn to do it. So, it's no surprise this isn't tracked accurately on LinkedIn because a LinkedIn doesn't accurately describe "friend". You can dive down in the fish bowl looking for more answers but, really the data isn't there because your real friends aren't :-/

  5. Kit_

    The Number Connections

    Let's look at the numbers.

    So, I have 4,000 first degree connections (because like most people I use LinkedIn as a big network in case I need to find someone and basically accept any somewhat relevant connection request that comes in whether you have every heard of that person or not).

    Second degree connections - I guess about 2,000,000? 3rd degree connections - about half the LinkedIn database?

    Am I more likely to find a job with the group of 4,000 or the group of 2,000,000? Although the 3rd degree connections are so much bigger they start to be more likely to be in other industries, so perhaps that's why 2nd degree connections are the most likely to work.

    I don't see the exact details of how they cluster, but if they group by 'number of shared connections' instead - then it will still lead to the same multiplicative effects that you have exponentially more connections with 'weaker connections'.

    1. El Bard

      Re: The Number Connections

      This. Plus I'd be curious to see the probability that a "strong connection" is either someone you are already working with or worked with at a former employer, versus "weak connections" being people who work in close enough industries but different enough contexts to present some degree of novelty/opportunity.

      Compound this with the purely statistical factors you mentioned, and you have something that could make such a conclusion obvious to the point of being useless.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Weaker links best

    It actually makes sense. If you know someone well, then you have probably already shared any job advice or vacancies with them. If you know someone only a little, or have only just met them, your whole knowledge of job vacancies is new to them.

    As for getting a new job via LinkedIn, there is no way I'd be worth the money they'd have to spend to get me back into the office for a standard 9 to 5* job. I'll stay happily retired for now, thanks.


  8. MachDiamond Silver badge

    I'm definitely an anomoly

    Yes, I'm on LinkedIn for a certain value of "on". The only people I'm connected with are those that I've worked or gone to school with and like. I don't think I've added to the list for 3-4 years. Since I'm self-employed now, I find nothing to my advantage in connecting with my clients. I already communicate with them often enough. It's not bad for people to be able to find me if we've lost touch over the years and our contact information has changed.

    Recruiter spam goes right in the bin. I just received another completely unsuitable job offer today doing a job I'd never want to do again for a company that I don't think is going to be around long term. I have no inclination to sell my home and move across the country to an extremely high cost of living area for a job that pays peanuts.

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