Project Description(Last Updated On: November 26, 2017)
This study investigated factors that influence the extent and type of information job seekers reveal about themselves when using social networking to search for employment opportunities and advance their careers. It examined how user concerns regarding privacy influence the level of content they provide and their interactions with fellow community members. Using social exchange theory as its theoretical framework, this study employed exploratory qualitative inquiry to examine the how and why of people’s experiences, as they interacted with professionally orientated websites and communities in their search for employment. Following the tenants of this methodology, the researcher utilized purposeful sampling to enlist a relatively small number of participants. To collect data, the researcher conducted personal interviews with 14 participants who had at least six months of experience using social media in their job search and shared information with at least one online community. The participants were either unemployed (seeking employment) or currently employed (seeking to further their career). Findings from this research showed that those using online social networking for career advancement understand that protecting their privacy is problematic. Even so, they realize that information must be shared to attract potential employers. As such, they mitigate privacy risk by (a) connecting with those whom they have a relationship, or have been referred to by their associates, and (b) establishing boundaries regarding the information they disclose. Additionally, the research suggested that the level of one’s self-disclosure is based upon their trust in those with whom they share information to keep their confidence and use the material appropriately, and in the applicable website’s management to protect their privacy, both from technological and policy perspectives. The results of this study have implications for future research in the following areas: the influence of current events upon privacy concerns and practices, introduction of a quantitative methodology to measure the influence of each factor, and modification of the methodological approach from case study to grounded theory. This research contributes to the body of literature, as it examined concepts regarding social exchange theory, privacy, and self-disclosure in the context of online professional networking.