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Home arrow Psychology arrow The Wiley Blackwell handbook of the psychology of recruitment, selection and employee retention

Future Research

In this section, I highlight four themes that merit future research attention. Two of these - factors underlying why recruitment targeting should matter, and the use of third- party information as a way to increase the credibility of an employer’s recruitment message - are directly relevant to the three recruitment questions addressed in this chapter. The other two themes - the need for more nuanced research, and for theory-driven research - transcend most recruitment topics. Readers interested in exploring a wider range of issues that experts in the field have suggested deserve future investigation (e.g., the use of social media, recruiting in different cultural contexts) are referred to Yu and Cable’s (2013) edited handbook.

Although targeting particular groups for recruitment (e.g., family members of current employees, individuals who have already worked in similar jobs) may be advantageous for an employer, as previously noted there is little research to draw on. In the future, it is important for researchers to investigate whether particular types of individuals make better employees in terms of superior performance and less turnover and whether this is due to greater self-insight, more realistic job expectations, better skills or their being more receptive to job offers.

For an employer’s recruitment campaign to be effective, its recruitment message in a macro-sense must be seen as credible by those targeted for recruitment. In this regard, a quick scan of a few corporate websites shows that many employers tend to emphasize the positives of working for their company with little attention given to the negatives. Providing a somewhat glossy view of a job can result in its overall recruitment message being viewed as lacking credibility. Although the use of employee testimonials and publicizing awards an employer has received can increase message credibility, third-party information can be a powerful source for buttressing the credibility of an organization’s communications. One type of third-party source is a website (e.g.,, Glassdoor. com) that is not affiliated to the organization. Another third-party source is word-of- mouth information (information about an employer that is independent of its recruitment efforts). Word-of-mouth information can derive from friends, alumni of one’s college or neighbours who work for the employer. Research on the use of third-party sources (e.g., Jaidi, Van Hooft & Arends, 2011; Van Hoye & Lievens, 2009) suggests the information they provide has a high level of credibility. Future research on how an employer might make use of such third-party sources is recommended.

Regardless of the recruitment issue being investigated, I would echo the theme of other writers (e.g., Dineen & Soltis, 2011). Future research needs to be more nuanced. In this regard, I have noted how researchers have only recently begun to look at how the effects of recruitment variables (e.g., the nature of the message communicated) may depend on certain characteristics (e.g., knowledge of the organization) of the individual considering a job opening. Although studies investigating interactions of recruitment variables and individual difference variables are needed, research involving interactions of different recruitment variables is also called for. For example, in an earlier paper (Breaugh, 2012), I suggested that the effects of providing a realistic job preview may be minimal if a person was referred by a current employee of the hiring firm. A study by Baker (2015) is an example of the type of research suggested. Baker examined the effects of stressing the need for teamwork skills as a KSAO in a job advertisement. Baker found that including teamwork skills had the intended effect of increasing the probability of potential employees with such skills applying for a position. However, she also found that emphasizing the need for teamwork skills had the unintended effect of potential employees with higher task-related skills being less likely to apply for a position. Clearly, such results need to be replicated. However, they suggest that, by highlighting the need for certain KSAOs, an employer may reduce the likelihood that it will receive applications from individuals who possess other valuable skills (this may occur when the possession of one skill is inversely related to the possession of another skill).

As Rynes, Reeves and Darnold (2013) discuss, much of the research conducted on recruitment-related topics has been somewhat atheoretical. This is disappointing given theorizing from a variety of fields, especially social psychology, has great relevance for what goes on during the recruitment process. Dunning (2007) reviewed research suggesting that individuals often have an inflated opinion of their abilities and why this is likely to occur. As accurate self-insight is fundamental to an individual being able to make an intelligent self-selection decision after receiving realistic information from an employer, the theoretical ideas offered by social psychology for why self-awareness may be lacking could be incorporated into future recruitment research. As another example of the potential value of incorporating ideas drawn from psychological theory into research on recruitment issues, consider attitude change (for a detailed discussion of this issue, see Breaugh, 2013a). A number of organizations attempt to change attitudes held by prospective job candidates about the desirability of working for them during the recruitment process by highlighting awards they have received, for example. Although such a strategy may be beneficial, theory on attitude change suggests three reasons - selective exposure, confirmation bias and biased information processing - why it might make more sense for an organization to target for recruitment individuals who already have a positive attitude to the organization or who have yet to form an opinion. Simply stated, selective attention refers to the tendency to avoid attitude-incongruent information (this has been shown to be more pronounced with more strongly held attitudes). Confirmation bias reflects the fact that individuals try to confirm pre-existing beliefs by seeking attitude-consistent information. In addition to the tendency to avoid attitude-discrepant information and seek attitude-supportive information, the way information is processed also contributes to attitude stability. More specifically, research has shown that individuals tend to process information in a biased way to overcome cognitive inconsistency.

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