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Network recruitment and diminishing boundaries between private life and working life

Conference contribution
Authors Anna Hedenus
Peter Håkansson
Christel Backman
Published in FALFs nationella arbetslivskonferens 2016, 13–15 juni, Östersund
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Subject categories Sociology


Network recruitment has become more important and more common in the late modern society (Pissarides, 1979; Holzer, 1988; Calvó-Armengol & Zenou, 2005; Calvó-Armengol & Jackson, 2004; Hensvik & Nordström Skans, 2013; Håkansson, 2011; Tovatt, 2013; Håkansson & Tovatt, 2016). The innovations of the third industrial revolution, i.e. the microchip, internet and social media, have played an important role for social networks in general, but also for recruitment. This has coincided with the development of a neoliberal discourse, including among other things New Public Management (NPM) and an individualistic perspective of the self. Thus, there has been a change in recruitment practices due to institutional change, where the importance of social networks has increased and the significance of public institutions (i.e. the National Employment Office) has decreased. When network recruitment becomes more important, boundaries between work life and private life diminish. Private social networks become important to build an asset, a social capital, to find employment. This article emphasizes the role social media plays in creating and maintaining social capital for recruitment purpose. Using qualitative data from an ongoing study on employer’s use of internet searches as part of the recruitment process, we illustrate how online networks influence hiring decisions. Our analyses points at two important motives for recruiters to utilize and assess online networks: 1) to find names of potential candidates (for headhunting) or previous employers, colleagues or customers that can be contacted for further information; and 2) to evaluate the candidate’s social capital as reflected in the size and composition of the individual’s network. The results show that, especially for certain job positions, active management of one’s online network - as part of “personal branding” (Trottier, 2012) - becomes crucial for the commodification and presentation of self as well as for blurred boundaries between private and professional roles.

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