CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

James L. Parrish

Committee Member

Laurie P. Dringus

Committee Member

Timothy J Ellis

Abstract

Social networking sites (SNS) have become a popular way for people to share information about themselves and their lives. However, the type and amount of information shared on SNS can impact an individual's desirability as an employee. This study examined the effects that personal images posted to an individual's SNS and the comments associated with the image have on their evaluation as a job candidate. The study built on prior research conducted in this area by specifically examining SNS images and not an entire SNS profile. The goal of this study was to better understand the impact of the images themselves and how the comments associated with the image impacts how the image is perceived. Additionally, by focusing on the image, the results of this study were generalized across a wider array of SNS.

A quasi-experimental study was used to determine the effect that image comments have on the interpretation of those images. In this study, the impact that the image comments have on the interpretation of the image was measured using employee desirability. To conduct the study, 315 research participants were recruited from various organizations throughout the United States. The participants of the study included a number of recruiters and hiring managers from various organizations. A number of employers are using SNS to gather data on current or potential employees; therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the images and/or comments associated with the user's social network profile can have negative or positive consequences on the user's academic and professional lives.

The final survey was administered to 315 participants that have experience in hiring and recruiting employees. Overall, the image comments do not have a statistically significant effect on the interpretation of the image with respect to their evaluation as a job candidate. However, an examination of the inter-group results indicated a statistically significant difference between the comments that cast the actions depicted in the image in an unfavorable light and the comments that cast the actions depicted in the image in a favorable light. The comments that cast the actions depicted in the image in a favorable light do not mitigate the negative actions shown in the image. Therefore, the images with an emphasis on drinking alcohol had a negative effect on the employee desirability; whereas, the images with a family orientation had no effect on the employee desirability. The results also found that the majority of recruiters and hiring managers only referenced the context of the photograph as the factor that influenced the decision. The content analysis revealed that the majority of recruiters and hiring managers referenced the context only of the alcohol related image as having influenced the decision. The majority of recruiters and hiring managers referenced neither the comments nor the context of the family oriented image as having influenced the decision. Therefore, negative content such as photographs and comments related to alcohol that are uploaded to SNS have an impact on the recruiters' evaluation of job candidates.

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