Weak Social Networks Playing a Role in High African American Unemployment Rate

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December 31, 2012 ‐ By
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Social networks aren’t just for socializing. Increasingly, there is a mandate for using one’s social network for professional advancement. Unfortunately, African Americans are reluctant to do that. Or their social networks lack the power to help the unemployed find a job.

According to the National Journal, these weak networks create “concentrated disadvantages.” There are some who simply don’t use their networks to their advantage. And others who try, but face hurdles.

“One is just numbers: Few blacks are in top positions empowered to make hiring decisions, notes Algernon Austin, director of the race, ethnicity, and the economy program at the Economic Policy Institute,” the article says.

Add to that the racism and stereotypes that exist and you have a situation where the high black unemployment rate (about double that of whites) could stick around until 2015, a half-century trend for the black population.

“[E. Faye] Williams reminds members of the National Congress of Black Women to broaden their networks and to not discount anyone, even those in entry-level positions, when developing professional networks,” the article says.

Just recently, we offered these tips for getting the most out of your LinkedIn accountNational Journal also suggests a proactive approach to the job search; having resumes at the ready and submitting them, even if there explicitly isn’t a job opening available.

We’d also suggest that you make the most of industry groups. Many professions have an organization that hosts networking events, mixers, and classes that offer the opportunity to meet people and get your name out there. Oftentimes, there are even more than one that you can join — one for the profession as a whole and others for ethnic groups within the profession. Even if it costs a little bit, the annual fee is worth it. And be sure that you’re using your face time to push your professional credentials. Making friends is fine, but the reason you (and everyone else) is there is for career advancement. In this case, it’s totally acceptable to be all business.

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  • guest

    I think this is great advice. One other thing to remember is not to burn bridges. Always be gracious when you enter a job and when you exit. You never know if/when you may encounter those people again, and who knows, you may even get a future job working with them again :)