Research suggests that about half of all jobs are found through network-based job searching: receiving a job lead from family, friends, or acquaintances. This study examined how social networks affect racial disparity in employment opportunity. The researchers discovered that although Black and white job seekers use their social networks to find jobs at similar rates, Black job seekers are less likely to receive a job offer through their networks. This disparity occurs through two mechanisms: Black job seekers are less likely than white job seekers to know someone who works at the companies to which they are applying, and they are less likely to have their social network contact an employer on their behalf.
Among job seekers who used their social networks, Blacks were 5% less likely than whites to receive a job offer.
This study investigated why the networks of Black job seekers may be less effective than those of white job seekers in producing job offers. The researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Job Search. Their sample consisted of 1,617 U.S. job seekers who responded to nine survey waves between February 2013 and November 2014. Respondents were between the ages of 18 and 64 and had looked for work in the four weeks prior to participation in the survey. Respondents gave detailed information on their demographics, employment histories, job search behaviours, and whether they had received job offers or not.