Finding Your Next Job Could Depend on Who You Know

African-Americans need to build a family and friends network of job contacts.

Posted: 12/18/2012 01:24 PM EST
Finding Your Next Job Could Depend on Who You Know

Long before Facebook, LinkedIn and other similar sites were even thought of, networking was a key part of the job search process. But African-Americans are likely to know more people looking for hookups than those who can offer them. Not having enough Blacks in hiring positions also compounds the problem.

In a study conducted by Deidre Royster, a New York University sociologist, of African-American and white men with similar training looking for jobs in the same areas, The Washington Post reports, white men had much more success getting jobs. It was in part because of their far wider networks.

"It just happens to be the case that if you are a white guy you are more likely to know people who have access to a certain set of jobs," Royster told The Post. "It has to do with becoming part of a network of reciprocity."

It's an important lesson immigrants have learned, which, according to the publication, may be why Hispanics have a lower unemployment rate than African-Americans even though they tend to be less well educated.

Still, networking doesn't negate discrimination. Case in point: At almost every educational and professional level, African-Americans' unemployment rate is twice that of whites.

"The 2-to-1 gap in the unemployment rate is one of the most pronounced signs of the presence of discrimination in our society, Duke University professor William A. Darity told The Post. "That disparity, I think, is an index of discrimination."

Robert L. Johnson, chairman of the RLJ Companies and BET founder, has an idea he believes can help narrow that gap.

Based on the National Football League's Rooney Rule, created to boost hiring of minority coaches, U.S. corporations would be encouraged to interview at least two qualified minority candidates for every job at the level of vice president or higher. Businesses also would interview two minority-owned firms when seeking outside contractors and vendors.

Johnson told The Post that he has asked President Obama to embrace the idea, which has been endorsed by the National Urban League, the Congressional Black Caucus and the U.S. Black Chamber. According to Johnson, the president said he would present it to his jobs council but attempts to work with White House staff on it have "fizzled out."

"Hiring in this country is still a friend of a friend kind of thing," said Johnson, who believes that having more Blacks in the position to hire will reduce Black unemployment.

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(Photo: GettyImages)

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