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Word-of-mouth in recruitment : new directions

Sara Stockman (UGent)
(2020)
Author
Promoter
(UGent)
Organization
Abstract
No matter whether organizations are confronted with economic up‐ or downturns, there will always be hard‐to‐fill vacancies while the best skilled job seekers will continue to have enough options to critically compare potential employers. Therefore, organizations should keep on looking for ways to stand out as an attractive employer to efficiently attract sufficient and qualified staff to maintain a competitive advantage. One of the key factors determining potential applicants’ attraction to organizations is the source through which they receive employment information. The four papers and six studies of this dissertation aim to significantly advance our understanding of word‐of‐mouth as a particular recruitment source and shed light on what we do not yet know about word‐of‐mouth in the recruitment process. The first mixed method paper investigates why previous studies on negative word‐of‐mouth have provided inconsistent findings on its effect on organizational attraction. Based on the signaling theory and brand equity literature the paper proposes that the strength of the negative signal provided by negative word‐of‐mouth will vary according to applicants’ prior knowledge of a potential employer and its image and reputation, representing its so‐called employer brand equity. The results confirmed the buffer role of employer brand equity. The extent to which job seekers possess prior knowledge about a potential employer seems to affect their openness to negative word‐of‐mouth, hence its impact on their attraction to an organization as an employer. The results further suggested that besides having prior knowledge or not, the degree of consistency between prior knowledge and subsequent negative word‐mouth seems to impact job seekers’ openness towards negative word‐of‐mouth. Finally, when job seekers cannot rely on organizations’ employer brand equity, they tend to look at the degree of consensus about what is said, try to verify it, and want to experience what is said directly before taking into account the negative word‐ofmouth. In the second qualitative paper, we conducted interviews with employees and HR managers to find out whether and how organizations are involving their current employees in the recruitment process through social media. The study also probed into the experiences of employees with organizations stimulating them to share and like employment related content via social media. Based on the findings, we recommend organizations to involve current staff in the recruitment process through social media and make use of their exclusive and extended networks. Moreover, if doing so, organizations should put sufficient effort in informing their staff about how, why, and what they can do on social media to contribute to the organization’s recruitment strategy. Finally, we emphasize the importance of keying into employees’ motives for disseminating positive word‐of mouth about their employer. The third paper examines the impact of referral bonuses and how hospitals frame their request for referrals on the current nursing staff’s referral likelihood and on the quality of the referrals they make. The findings indicate that offering a referral bonus or not did not make a difference in terms of increasing nurses’ referral likelihood nor their referral quality. Instead, hospitals could benefit from communicating in a way that triggers nurses’ autonomous motivation to refer by appealing to their universal psychological needs in their communication towards the nurses. The two experimental studies in the fourth and last paper examined the effect of referral bonuses on potential applicants’ perceptions of an organization as an attractive employer. Based on the credibility theory and the multiple inference model, the findings suggest that potential applicants seem less attracted to the organization when they are aware that employee referrals are rewarded. This is due to lower credibility perceptions and applicants’ inferences about the referrer’s other‐oriented motives. Moreover, varying specific characteristics of referral bonuses such as timing, size, type, recipient, and framing of the motive for referring, do not seem to change their negative impact on applicants’ perceptions.
Keywords
Word-of-mouth, recruitment, employer branding, human resource management

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MLA
Stockman, Sara. Word-of-Mouth in Recruitment : New Directions. Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde, 2020.
APA
Stockman, S. (2020). Word-of-mouth in recruitment : new directions. Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde.
Chicago author-date
Stockman, Sara. 2020. “Word-of-Mouth in Recruitment : New Directions.” Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Stockman, Sara. 2020. “Word-of-Mouth in Recruitment : New Directions.” Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde.
Vancouver
1.
Stockman S. Word-of-mouth in recruitment : new directions. Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde; 2020.
IEEE
[1]
S. Stockman, “Word-of-mouth in recruitment : new directions,” Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde, 2020.
@phdthesis{8674418,
  abstract     = {No matter whether organizations are confronted with economic up‐ or downturns, there will always be hard‐to‐fill vacancies while the best skilled job seekers will continue to have enough options to critically compare potential employers. Therefore, organizations should keep on looking for ways to stand out as an attractive employer to efficiently attract sufficient and qualified staff to maintain a competitive advantage. One of the key factors determining potential applicants’ attraction to organizations is the source through which they receive employment information. The four papers and six studies of this dissertation aim to significantly advance our understanding of word‐of‐mouth as a particular recruitment source and shed light on what we do not yet know about word‐of‐mouth in the recruitment process. The first mixed method paper investigates why previous studies on negative word‐of‐mouth have provided inconsistent findings
on its effect on organizational attraction. Based on the signaling theory and brand equity literature the paper proposes that the strength of the negative signal provided by negative word‐of‐mouth will vary according to applicants’ prior knowledge of a potential employer and its image and reputation, representing its so‐called employer brand equity. The results confirmed the buffer role of employer brand equity. The extent to which job seekers possess prior knowledge about a potential employer seems to affect their openness to negative word‐of‐mouth, hence its impact on their attraction to an organization as an employer. The results further suggested that besides having prior knowledge or not, the degree of consistency between prior knowledge and subsequent negative word‐mouth seems to impact job seekers’ openness towards negative word‐of‐mouth. Finally, when job seekers cannot rely on organizations’ employer brand equity, they tend to look at the degree of consensus about what is said, try to verify it, and want to experience what is said directly before taking into account the negative word‐ofmouth. In the second qualitative paper, we conducted interviews with employees and HR managers to find out whether and how organizations are involving their current employees in the recruitment process through social media. The study also probed into the experiences of employees with organizations stimulating them to share and like employment related content via social media. Based on the findings, we recommend organizations to involve current staff in the recruitment process through social media and make use of their exclusive and extended networks. Moreover, if doing so, organizations should put sufficient effort in informing their staff about how, why, and what they can do on social media to contribute to the organization’s recruitment strategy. Finally, we emphasize the importance of keying into employees’ motives for disseminating positive word‐of mouth about their employer. The third paper examines the impact of referral bonuses and how hospitals frame their request for referrals on the current nursing staff’s referral likelihood and on the quality of the referrals they make. The findings indicate that offering a referral bonus or not did not make a difference in terms of increasing nurses’ referral
likelihood nor their referral quality. Instead, hospitals could benefit from communicating in a way that triggers nurses’
autonomous motivation to refer by appealing to their universal psychological needs in their communication towards the nurses. The two experimental studies in the fourth and last paper examined the effect of referral bonuses on potential applicants’ perceptions of an organization as an attractive employer. Based on the credibility theory and the multiple inference model, the findings suggest that potential applicants seem less attracted to the organization when they are aware that employee referrals are rewarded. This is due to lower credibility perceptions and applicants’ inferences about the referrer’s other‐oriented motives. Moreover, varying specific characteristics of referral bonuses such as timing, size, type, recipient, and framing of the motive for referring, do not seem to change their negative impact on applicants’ perceptions.},
  author       = {Stockman, Sara},
  keywords     = {Word-of-mouth,recruitment,employer branding,human resource management},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {262},
  publisher    = {Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {Word-of-mouth in recruitment : new directions},
  year         = {2020},
}