Date of Award

Fall 2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems - (Ph.D.)

Department

Information Systems

First Advisor

Starr Roxanne Hiltz

Second Advisor

Michael Bieber

Third Advisor

Katia Passerini

Fourth Advisor

George Robert Widmeyer

Fifth Advisor

Raquel Benbunan-Fich

Abstract

Social networking sites (SNSs) are revolutionizing the way in which employers and job seekers connect and interact with each other. Despite the reported benefits of SNSs with respect to finding a job, there are issues such as privacy concerns that might be deterring job seekers from using these sites in their attempts to secure a job. It is therefore important to understand the factors that are salient in predicting job seekers' use of SNSs in applying for jobs.

In this research, a theoretical model was developed to explicate job seekers' intentions to use SNSs to apply for jobs. Two aspects of intentions to use SNSs to apply for jobs were examined: (i) the likelihood of using these sites to submit applications, and (ii) the likelihood of sharing personal information requested by recruiters and potential employers using SNSs to recruit employees. Factors that could determine preference for the use of traditional job boards over SNSs in applying for jobs were also investigated. The initial theoretical model tested in this research was anchored on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), and thus, variables such as performance expectancy, effort expectancy and social influence were predicted to have an impact on job seekers' intentions. Other factors hypothesized as having an influence on job seekers' intentions to apply for jobs using SNSs were: privacy concerns; perceived justice (trust that the information revealed in SNSs will be used fairly in the job candidate selection process); perceived risks; and the provision of information on a distinctive function within some SNSs referred to, in this study, as the "inside connections" feature (which illustrates to job seekers their social network connections to potential employers). Data for this study were gathered through an online survey from 490 registered users (alumni and students hoping to graduate soon) of career services databases managed by two universities in New Jersey, USA.

The test of the measurement model of the initial research model suggested that survey respondents did not sufficiently distinguish performance expectancy from intention to apply for jobs using SNSs. Thus, an alternative model with only intention to share information with recruiters and potential employers using SNSs to recruit employees as the dependent variable was developed. The results of the test of the alternative model suggest that performance expectancy and privacy concerns are the most dominant direct predictors, and that social influence specific to image and perceived justice are indirect predictors. However, effort expectancy and risk beliefs did not influence directly the intention to share information with recruiters and potential employers using SNSs to recruit employees. The R2 value for this alternative model was 37.3%. Exploratory analyses suggest that all of the model variables, except the provision of information on the "inside connections" feature, have a significant influence on intention to apply for job using SNSs and preference for job boards over SNSs.

The results of this study suggest that, in efforts to encourage the use of SNSs for securing a job, designers should pay significantly more attention to promoting the usefulness of these sites and to providing job seekers with more control in handling their personal information in order to alleviate privacy concerns. This study provides insights into predictors of job seekers' behavior in SNSs that can inform future research.

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