This is all explained in the book "Getting a Job" by Mark Granovetter. Written in 1974 it is very relevant today. Parts are very academic, but overall it is a very worthwhile read about how networks bring knowledge of job openings at some social distance. Granovetter is the originator of the term "strength of weak ties" ... which you have just stumbled across Tom.
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On Jun 9, 2008, at 8:23 PM, Tom Short wrote:
I'm in the midst of job hunting, looking for my next position. One of
the tools I am using extensively for this is networking - no surprises
there, I guess. I'm part of a job search work team that is operated
by the outplacement services firm I'm signed up with (part of my
severance package - very helpful), and each week we meet for a couple
hours to compare notes, help each out with ideas/suggestions/support,
When the topic of networking comes up we are all surprised to discover
that when we ask for help making new connections - for instance in a
target employer - the most help comes from people we don't know well,
or at all. This is in stark contrast with the lack of help we get
from those who we would normally consider closest to us - our close
personal friends and family members. I have experienced this myself -
it was quite surprising at first, but now I just consider it normal.
This seems quite counter-intuitive to me in terms of the way social
capital is supposed to work - or am I missing something?
Anyone know of any research on this, or have experience, either
similar to the contrary?