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Regular version of the site

Personal Relations Help Find a Job

Over half of Russians find jobs with the help of their families and friends.

Authors of the research:

Olga MayorovaDeputy Head of the HSE International Laboratory for Applied Network Research.
Elena ArtyukhovaJunior Research Fellow at the HSE International laboratory for Applied Network Research.

Personal relationships are most often used in employment in oil & gas, construction, and trade companies. The frequency of their use depends on the employee’s age, educational level, work experience, and place of residence, as well as the company size and type, according to research carried out by Olga Mayorova and Elena Artyukhova. Obtaining a Job through the ‘back door’ is most prevalent in the North Caucasian region.

The study ‘Russian labour market: evolution of formal and informal mechanisms for job search’ was based on the results of the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey – HSE (RLMS-HSE), 2006-2014.

Strengths and weaknesses of social networks

Answers to the question ‘How did you find your main job?’ formed the key data for the researchers. RLMS-HSE respondents (employed citizens aged 15-60) were offered one of the following options to describe how they found their job:

  • Formal (postgraduate work assignment; through HR departments; advertisements online/in media; employment services);
  • Informal (through family and friends);

The researchers divided the informal mechanisms (also known as personal relations or social networks) into two subdivisions; strong ties (jobs found through the family) and weak ties (through friends and acquaintances).

North Caucasus bets on the family

Males are more inclined to act informally. But differences according to gender are not considerable, the researchers noted: about 50% of males and 44% of females have found jobs through friends, while 13% and 10%, respectively, found work through families.

Family ties help young people enter the job market. The maximum share of those employed thanks to family (17%) is among employees aged 15 to 24. Later, this share shrinks (7% among people aged 45-55), but the share of those who have used help from friends grows (52% among people aged 35-44).

Geography also influences the job hunting procedure. For example, strong ties are used in North Caucasus twice as often as in other regions. Strong ties are also the main channel for job hunting in small towns with a population of less than 10,000. Weak ties prevail in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Central Russia, Volga Region, and in cities with a population of over 10,000.

Type of company makes difference

People with high educational and qualification levels appeal to family and friends less often.

Salary expectations define the strategy for job hunting: candidates who agree to low salaries use strong ties more often. Weak ties turn to be important for those looking for a higher income. The frequency of use of both types of connection depends on the type of the company. Informal methods were primarily used by employees of private (60%) and foreign (55%) companies, rather than public institutions (50%).

The share of employees from ‘social networks’ is considerable both in big and small firms. For example, their share is almost 54% in companies with over 1000 staff, and 66% in companies with a staff of less than 10. The importance of family ties grows in big companies, while small firms use friends (55% in companies with less than 10 staff).

Some industry-related specifics have also been detected. Workers in education, culture, science and medicine use their relations less often than those in other fields. People employed in construction, trade and service industry address their friends more often, and those employed in oil & gas, heavy and power industries use their family ties.

Russia is on trend

The use of personal relations is effective in job hunting in Russia and is regulated by the job market, the research authors concluded. The proportions of different search strategies (formal and informal) react to changes in the dynamics of employment and GDP. For example, after the 2008 crisis, when GDP fell, as well as the employment rate, the role of social networks grew, and the number of those who found a job through formal methods fell. The same fluctuations were observed in 2011 and 2012.

In total, the share of Russian staff employed through the use of family and friend connections has remained stable, about 55-60% between 2006 and 2014. This is similar to the situation in the labour markets in most developed market economies.
August 10, 2016