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Online social networks and hiring: a field experiment on the French labor market

Manant, Matthieu and Pajak, Serge and Soulié, Nicolas (2014): Online social networks and hiring: a field experiment on the French labor market.

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With the advance of social network sites, employers can screen applicants' online profiles to gain additional personal information without the applicants' awareness. We investigate whether employers rely on such online information when deciding to call an applicant back for interview. During a 12-month period, we set-up a field experiment and sent more than 800 applications of two fictitious applicants that differ for a signal - their perceived origins - solely available on their Facebook profiles. A 40 % gap between the two applicants highlights that online profiles are used to screen and select applicants. For many recruiters, Facebook profiles have become a part of the application material. An unexpected change in the Facebook layout altered the display of our online signal. This natural experiment allows us to pinpoint the cause of screening, and therefore the odds of being called back for interview, within the online profile.

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