What’s on job seekers’ social media sites? A content analysis and effects of structure on recruiter judgments and predictive validity.


Many organizational representatives review social media (SM) information (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) when recruiting and assessing job applicants. Despite this, very little empirical data exist concerning the SM information available to organizations or whether assessments of such information are a valid predictor of work outcomes. This multistudy investigation examines several critical issues in this emerging area. In Study 1, we conducted a content analysis of job seekers’ Facebook sites (n = 266) and found that these sites often provide demographic variables that U.S. employment laws typically prohibit organizations from using when making personnel decisions (e.g., age, ethnicity, and religion), as well as other personal information that is not work-related (e.g., sexual orientation, marital status). In Study 2 (n = 140), we examined whether job seekers’ SM information is related to recruiter evaluations. Results revealed that various types of SM information correlated with recruiter judgments of hireability, including demographic variables (e.g., gender, marital status), variables organizations routinely assess (e.g., education, training, and skills), and variables that may be a concern to organizations (e.g., profanity, sexual behavior). In Study 3 (n = 81), we examined whether structuring SM assessments (e.g., via rater training) affects criterion-related validity. Results showed that structuring SM assessments did not appear to improve the prediction of future job performance or withdrawal intentions. Overall, the present findings suggest that organizations should be cautious about assessing SM information during the staffing process. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Publication Title

Journal of Applied Psychology