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Friday, September 25 • 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Job Search Online: Special Privilege or a Resource for All?

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Abstract Link

While the Internet may offer benefits to people in numerous ways, undoubtedly one of the most important ways it may improve people’s situation is during the job-search process. From the opportunity to network with both strong and weak ties to offering access to data bases of job openings, digital media can lower the search cost between employer and future employee. Despite the significance of potential benefits to using the Internet in the job-search process, surprisingly little research has addressed the topic. The few studies that have been written in this domain mainly consider whether job searchers are Internet users in general. Our data set includes more details about how people have used the Internet in their job-search process, allowing for a unique contribution to the literature on Internet use and job search.

We analyze data about 1,600 Americans’ Internet uses focusing specifically on the job-search process. The data were collected in May 2013 with an oversample of African Americans to allow for focused analysis on racial differences in online behavior, something past research has established regarding various Web uses. The sample is diverse with all regions of the United States represented. The average age is 49, somewhat more women (57%) than men participated. Over a third of respondents have no more than a high school education, less than 30% have a college education or more.

Over a fifth of the sample (22%) reported having searched for a job in the past four years. African Americans, Hispanics and younger adults are more likely to be in this category than Whites and older adults. Whether a person uses the Internet has no relation to whether he or she searched for a job in the past four years.

When it comes to using the Internet for job search, we find that factors beyond being an Internet user (i.e., reporting use of the Internet at all) are important correlates of such technology use. Regarding demographic and socioeconomic factors, younger adults, men, Hispanics, and those with higher education are more likely to use the Web for job searching. We also find that, after controlling for age, gender, race, ethnicity, and education, both autonomy of use (operationalized as number of devices on which the participant accesses the Internet) and Internet skills (operationalized as familiarity with several Internet-related terms) are related to use of the Internet for job search. Additionally, we show that the use of social network sites for job search is especially important for African American and Hispanic respondents compared to Whites. But Internet skills still matter in these cases. Those who understand digital media better are more likely to use the Internet more generally and social media specifically for labor-market outcomes.

Most current policy aimed at addressing inequalities in Internet use focuses on infrastructural support. Our findings suggest that while a necessary condition, it is not sufficient to address inequities in use of the Internet for the important and widely-applicable activity of searching for a job. This study contributes to policy discussions by highlighting that beyond ensuring equitable physical access to the Internet, intervention may also be necessary at the level of training, education and support especially among the vulnerable population of less educated people in the midst of searching for a job.

Presenters
avatar for Eszter Hargittai

Eszter Hargittai

Delaney Family Professor, Northwestern University
avatar for John Horrigan

John Horrigan

Senior Researcher, Pew Research Center
I have done extensive work on tech adoption, including barriers to adoption, as well as exploring the impacts of online connectivity. I have done this at the Pew Research Center, the FCC (National Broadband Plan), and as a consultant. I work in DC, but am a proud resident of Baltimore, MD.


Friday September 25, 2015 5:30pm - 6:30pm
George Mason University School of Law Atrium

Attendees (4)