It is well-documented in the literature on labour markets
that personal connections, friendships, and other types of networks matter a
lot for finding a job. For example, applicants with friends in the recruiting organisation
are more likely to get a job offer.
This may be perfectly rational for the recruiting firm; the friends of the candidate in the organization can be a great source of information about the applicant. As a result, the firm can be more assured of the job qualities of the person. Put differently, the candidate will pose less of a risk – in terms of potentially turning out to be a hiring mistake – if he or she has friends in the firm who have provided inside information. Therefore, employers may be more eager to hire new people who already have friends in the firm.
But professor Adina Sterling from Washington University suspected there might be another reason why job applicants with friends in the firm might be more attractive to an employer than those without. For quite a few jobs – especially if it concerns newly recruited MBA students – applicants will simultaneously apply for multiple jobs and then pick the most attractive offer they receive. And this can be very costly for a firm: the recruitment procedure can be very expensive, with multiple rounds of interviews and tests, but the time the candidate “sits on an offer” before eventually rejecting it may also precisely be the time that the numbers 2 and 3 on the list also secure and accept offers elsewhere. Therefore, understandably, firms are eager to limit the number of rejections they receive from candidates to whom they offered the job, and if they get rejected they want it to happen asap.
Friendships and Strategic Behavior in Labor Markets, Adina Sterling (Washington University)
Paper summary published with the author’s permission.