To gain insights into the labor market, consider how basketball coaches move from one job to another.
Successful job hunting usually requires active networking that reaches beyond our immediate circle of contacts. According to past research, we are less likely to find jobs through our close friends and family than through an outer circle of acquaintances. And there’s a simple reason for that: Those individuals have information that we don’t already know. But social networks aren’t just important for information access. In fact, a recent study shows that they might also play other key roles, for example, by helping to shape employer perceptions of job candidates.
The research was conducted by Daniel Halgin, a doctoral student in the organization studies department of Boston College. Halgin investigated a particular kind of social network—professional networks in which people have a shared sense of belonging and identity that they retain through different career moves. Such networks often develop around shared workplace experiences. For instance, consultants who have worked for Bain & Co. Inc. often think of themselves as “Bainies” for life, and former high-level managers of General Electric Co. are frequently referred to as “graduates of Welch U.” (referring to ex-CEO Jack Welch) even after they’ve left GE to run other businesses.