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Will your Facebook profile get you hired? Employers use of information seeking online during the recruitment process

Conference contribution
Authors Christel Backman
Anna Hedenus
Published in Paper presented at The 6th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference, April 24-26, 2014, Barcelona, Spain.
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Keywords Recruitment, information seeking, data double, surveillance
Subject categories Sociology


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 subjects online action, how privacy settings are used and if online behaviour is modified depending on potential data gathering by outsiders. In this paper 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 interpret the data they find and to what extent it influences the recruitment process and the decision to hire or not hire a candidate. We present findings from a pilot study consisting of ten qualitative interviews with employers who use search engines to find additional data on job-seekers. In the paper we discuss the different ways in which information gathering on Internet is used, how it affects the recruitment process, how employers relate the “data double” to the identity presented by the job-seeker, and how ethical dilemmas are handled by the employers. We also discuss the ethical implementations of moving data from one context to another were it may be interpreted according to different norms, and show how this form of surveillance can be either beneficial or discriminatory for the subject depending on the information found and what the employer perceive as important aspects for the organisation.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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