The secret to getting a job:

You have to network.

Yeah, you’ve heard that a million times already. I can show you what it really does and why it’s one of the most important things to focus on:

We assess the information spillovers generated by the exchange of job-related information within networks of fellow workers exploiting administrative records covering all employment relationships established in a specific local labor market over 20 years. We recover individual-specific networks of former colleagues for a sample of workers exogenously displaced by firm closures and relate their subsequent unemployment duration to the share of employed contacts at displacement date. Individual-specific networks and the longitudinal dimension of the data allow to account for most plausible sources of omitted variable bias. In particular, identification rests on within-closure within-neighborhood and within-skill comparisons conditional of a wide range of predictors for the displaced and his contacts’ employment status, such as lagged wages and labor market attachment. We find that contacts’ current employment rate has statistically significant effects on unemployment duration: a one standard deviation increase in the network employment rate reduces unemployment duration by about 8 percent; as a benchmark, a one standard deviation increase in own wage at displacement is associated with a 10 percent lower unemployment duration. These effects are magnified if contacts recently searched for a job and if their current employer is closer, both in space and in skills requirements, to the displaced. We find that stronger ties and lower competition for the available information also speed up re-employment. A number of specification checks and indirect tests suggests the estimated spillover effect of contacts’ current employment status is driven by information exchange rather than by other interaction mechanisms.

Source: “People I know: Job Search and Social Networks” from Centre for Economic Policy Research

You need to get networking NOW. It can take a while if your network is not already strong.

And unemployment isn’t just a short period of bad times — it can screw you up long after you get a job:

According to set-point theories of subjective well-being, people react to events but then return to baseline levels of happiness and satisfaction over time. We tested this idea by examining reaction and adaptation to unemployment in a 15-year longitudinal study of more than 24,000 individuals living in Germany. In accordance with set-point theories, individuals reacted strongly to unemployment and then shifted back toward their baseline levels of life satisfaction. However, on average, individuals did not completely return to their former levels of satisfaction, even after they became reemployed. Furthermore, contrary to expectations from adaptation theories, people who had experienced unemployment in the past did not react any less negatively to a new bout of unemployment than did people who had not been previously unemployed. These results suggest that although life satisfaction is moderately stable over time, life events can have a strong influence on long-term levels of subjective well-being.

Source: “Unemployment Alters the Set Point for Life Satisfaction” from Psychological Science

Are you doing everything you can? Probably not. Most people don’t work nearly as hard as they could at finding a job.

How do I know that? Because finding a job spikes when unemployment benefits run out:

Putting a limit on the duration of unemployment benefits tends to introduce a “spike” in the job finding rate shortly before benefits are exhausted. Current theories explain this spike from workers’ behavior. We present a theoretical model in which also the nature of the job matters. End-of-benefit spikes in job finding rates are related to optimizing behavior of unemployed workers who rationally assume that employers will accept delays in the starting date of a new job, especially if these jobs are permanent. We use a dataset on Slovenian unemployment spells to test this prediction and find supporting evidence. We conclude that the spike in the job finding rate suggests that workers exploit unemployment insurance benefits for subsidized leisure.

Source: “Why is there a spike in the job finding rate at benefit exhaustion?” from Centre for Economic Policy Research

Already have a job? You still need to be networking:

Previous research has reported effects of networking, defined as building, maintaining, and using relationships, on career success. However, empirical studies have relied exclusively on concurrent or retrospective designs that rest upon strong assumptions about the causal direction of this relation and depict a static snapshot of the relation at a given point in time. This study provides a dynamic perspective on the effects of networking on career success and reports results of a longitudinal study. Networking was assessed with 6 subscales that resulted from combining measures of the facets of (a) internal versus external networking and (b) building versus maintaining versus using contacts. Objective (salary) and subjective (career satisfaction) measures of career success were obtained for 3 consecutive years. Multilevel analyses showed that networking is related to concurrent salary and that it is related to the growth rate of salary over time. Networking is also related to concurrent career satisfaction. As satisfaction remained stable over time, no effects of networking on the growth of career satisfaction were found.

Source: “Effects of networking on career success: A longitudinal study.” from Journal of Applied Psychology

You really have to be resourceful. That word is key in my book. Resourceful. You can work “hard” and be headed in the totally wrong direction. You can work long hours and accomplish nothing.

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