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Explaining your Data Double: Confessions, honesty and trust in job recruitments

Conference contribution
Authors Anna Hedenus
Christel Backman
Published in 7th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference, Barcelona
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Subject categories Sociology


The practice of cybervetting – i.e. online background checks of a jobseeker’s ‘data double’ – is considered to be a valuable tool in the recruitment process by an ever-increasing amount of employers. As a consequence, jobseekers lose some control over what aspects of their past, personal interests or private life they will share with the employer. Moreover, jobseekers are expected to confess, explain and contextualize unfavorable information about them if they want to be perceived as employable. This study aims to show how cybervetting recruiters encourage and anticipate such confessions, and use the outcomes to evaluate jobseekers’ honesty and capacity for self-reflection. The analysis is based on qualitative interviews with 36 Swedish HR professionals, hiring managers and employers, and guided by Foucault’s theoretical work on self-examinations, along with the confessional culture and its related concepts We argue that offline confessions are an important factor in what can be labeled ‘online employability’, that is, the impact of the data double on a person’s perceived employability. Hence, as the recruiter can examine a jobseeker’s private spheres, cybervetting is a surveillance practice with direct consequences on recruitment as well as clear effects on jobseekers’ self-examinations and interactions with human resources personnel.

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

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