The Impact of Web 2.0 Tools on Employment
Sarah K. Messer-Morgano
CUNY School of Professional Studies
The current US economy can easily be compared to that of the 1930’s economy, with a deepening recession and staggering lay-offs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the unemployment rate jumped from 7.2% to 7.6% in January (2009) a 16 1/2-year high” (Epstein 2009). More and more workers’ jobs are being cut each month and the lack of job growth has made finding and maintaining a job much more difficult.
Those hit the hardest are recent college graduates with little to no experience. “Employers expect to hire 22 percent fewer new grads from the college Class of 2009 than they hired from the Class of 2008,” according to a press release by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (www.naceweb.org.... A recent Labor Department figures the unemployment rate for those between the ages of 25 and 34 was 9.6% in April 2009 compared to the 6.2% for those ages 55 and older. Age discrimination lawsuits are said to be the cause of these statistics as Andria Ryan, partner at Atlanta law firm Fisher & Phillips LLP, explains, “While most states protect employees 40 and older from age discrimination, only a handful of jurisdictions extend this protection to employees as young as 18” (Mattioli).
Web 2.0 has allowed social network website users to, “electronically network with people who could provide valuable insight and connections to prospective employers” (Lee 2009). As many students are preparing to graduate college, they must not only prepare a physical resume, but also a virtual one filled with information that can advance their standing in a tough job market. With a talent pool of recent college graduates, skilled workers, managers and executives, social networking websites offer employers a virtual space where they can get to know their candidates in ways that would be impossible via traditional face-to-face communications (Joos).
Saving on traveling expenses, many companies turn to the Internet as a supplement in the hiring process. With over 160,000 employees nationwide the company Sodexho hires about 2,500 external candidates per year. VP of sourcing and talent acquisition Arie Bell explains that using the online commons space eliminates travel cost and time that the company would have otherwise wasted. Sodexho constructed an invitation only “virtual job-fair” through the use of avatars on the social network SecondLife.com and instant messaging for communication; demonstrating the power of new technology as a means of recruiting employees for a company (Berta).
(video 1.1) a tour of the career fair Sodexo hosted in the video game Second Life)
Myspace and Facebook rate among the top 5 social networking websites according to the 2007 Annual Business Rankings with Facebook celebrating over 175 million users for its five-year birthday (Baig). Myspace, created in 2004, is now owned and operated by global industry giant News corp., has a notorious reputation for scandalous material. One example that demonstrates the true impact of posting personal material on a personal profile was highlighted in a blog post on the Reuters’s website explaining that the managing editor for an Indiana newspaper was terminated for “questionable” content on their Myspace website (Rossi). Facebook is another top social networking website, created in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerburgh. It was originally designed for Harvard students, but expanded to anyone with a valid email address in 2006. Facebook “seeks to emulate real-life connections by structuring networks around schools, corporations, and geographic regions” (galenet.galegroup.com.remote.baruch.cuny.edu Like Myspace, Facebook has also sparked some debates about the impact of user-posted content on employment. On March of 2009 a suspect was acquitted after “the jurors learned that a few weeks before the trial, the officer posted this status on his Facebook page: ‘Vaughan is watching ‘Training Day’ to brush up on proper police procedure.’” (Dwyer). This example demonstrates the powerful impact of a person’s Internet reputation or “net-rep”.
A popular social networking website that highlights the business aspect of online social networking is LinkedIn, where “over 35 million professionals …exchange information, ideas and opportunities” (Linkedin.com). Members seek other members through common interests or friends and from there “build a relationship by e-mail and interviews, just as you would in traditional networking” (Borzo). LinkedIn makes great use of the “referral system”.
Many employers now screen potential employees by their profiles on social networking site such as Facebook, Myspace, Brightfuse and LinkedIn. According to an employer survey, the biggest turn-offs for employers when searching the profile of a potential candidate include: “disparaging a previous employer or disclosing confidential work information; disparity between the website and the CV/application form; intolerance that could cause disruption in the workplace; and criminal activity” (Cronly-Dillon). According to another survey, conducted by Careerbuilder.com in partnership with CNN, “Thirty-four percent of hiring managers chose not to hire a candidate based on what they found in profiles” (Hargis). Prior surveys haven’t explored the possibility of hiring managers choosing to hire a candidate based on what they found in profiles. Do web 2.0 tools really have an impact in the vetting process? Are employers looking for information that will screen-out or screen-in potential employees – or could it perhaps be a combination of the two?
There is one key construct of interest in this study. This construct is the economic sector that would most likely view online posted content to “screen-in” a candidate and other related questions.
The key hypothesis of this study is:
HO: Hiring managers from more creative economic sectors web-check candidates to both screen-out and screen-in potential employees.
which will be tested against the alternative:
HA: All hiring managers only web-check candidates to screen-out potential employees.