How to Find a (Great) Job During a Downturn

In 2020, as the COVID pandemic ripped through our communities and caused layoffs, furloughs, and budget cuts across industries, Harvard Business Review revisited research and tips from the 1970s to provide guidance for out-of-work professionals. With rumors of oncoming recession and uncertainty in the tech industry, these helpful tips are once again relevant.

The 1973 research cited is from John Hopkins sociologist, Mark Granovetter, who found that people are more likely to adopt new ideas from acquaintances (or “weak ties”) than from close friends. While studying job seekers, he determined that most jobs were obtained through personal contacts who told the job applicants about the position or recommended them to a coworker or hiring manager instead of by applying to job listings. This is especially true when it comes to high-profile (or so called “good” jobs).

The study found that about 17% of job seekers learned of a position from strong ties, while about 28% heard from a weak tie. According to professor Adam Grant, this is because “Strong ties provide bonds, but weak ties served as bridges: they provide more efficient access to new information.” We tend to be more direct with acquancies, he explains, and give more background information and clearly communicate our wants and needs. It allows for better matchmaking — between role and worker — from those acquaintances. 

How to Increase Your Ties When You Have Small Networks

For those who have limited connections, networking with new contacts and meeting decision-makers can increase your chances of leveraging “weak ties.” Job fairs and private recruiting events give a candidate a leg-up, as they provide easier access to hiring managers, in-person and in one place. This is true whether you’re looking for a new job or considering a career change.

In a way, a job fair or private recruiting event can act as a shortcut to making weak ties or building a stable of acquaintances. And those weak ties are often the decision-maker in hiring. They encourage you to be straightforward about what you’re looking for, your background, and how you might fit with their team. 

Catalyst Career Group is committed to matching quality candidates with great companies all over the nation. We make it easy for jobseekers with our friendly welcome orientation, informative event guides, and seminars specifically designed to help you advance your career at in-person and virtual job fairs.

And Private Recruiting Events allow you to meet with employers at their office, conference room, or virtually (over phone or video interview). While multi-company job fairs work well to meet many candidates for a broad range of positions, we’ll bring you directly to the door of the person who is hiring today.

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