Jing Shen
A Third Type of Job Search Behavior: The Use of the Formal-Informal Joint Channel in Matching Individual Qualifications with Hiring Requirements

The Journal of Chinese Sociology, 2015: 2, issue 3, pp. 1-21
ISSN: 2198-2635

This study highlights the necessity of distinguishing the use of the formal-informal joint channel from the sole reliance on either the formal or informal job search channel. I first used interview data collected in three Chinese cities as well as ethnographic case studies in the existing literature to illustrate a typology of the distribution of job search behavior, by focusing on the match between individual qualifications and employers’ hiring requirements. Based on data drawn from the 2003 China General Social Survey, the subsequent quantitative analysis confirms that neither the formal nor the informal job search channel dominates individual job search behaviors in practice. Rather, the formal-informal joint channel is used most frequently. Quantitative findings also show that competitive individual job seekers who possess both certifiable and non-certifiable qualifications are more likely to jointly use formal and informal job search methods. This study confirms that contact use plays a positive role in job searches, but very often in combination with the use of formal job search methods, rather than being used alone.