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University of Gothenburg

Employers´use of information seeking on the Internet in the recruitment process

Over the past years it has become increasingly more common for employers to check up job-seekers online, using a search engine, specific databases or social media. In this way employers may add information about specific parts of the job-seeker’s past, such as criminal records, or try to capture the job-seeker’s “data double”. Previous research on online behaviour in general and social media in particular, has focused on the data subject’s online action, how privacy settings are used and if online behaviour is modified due to potential data gathering by outsiders. In this project we turn our attention to the ones who gather this type of data and use it as access control for employment.

Our aim is to examine how employers and recruiting personnel interpret the data they find; to what extent it influences the recruitment process and the decision to hire or not hire a candidate; and what consequences this new practice may have for organizations and job seekers on the Swedish labour market.

In response to this aim, we conduct qualitative interviews with people from different kinds of organizations, working with recruitment and using internet searches as part of the recruitment process. We also make observations of such internet searches to get a fuller idea of how they are conducted. The results will primarily be published as peer-reviewed articles.

The project is funded by Forte: The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare [grant number 2013-1105]. It is led by Christel Backman (FD) together with Anna Hedenus (FD) and will be carried out through 2014-2018.

Please contact us if you have any further question.

Christel Backman
Telefon +46 31-786 58 13, email

Anna Hedenus
Telefon +46 31-786 47 84, email