Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Message Processing in Realistic Recruitment Practices

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Message Processing in Realistic Recruitment Practices

Article excerpt

Job applicants in today's competitive marketplace encounter numerous recruitment messages from many organizations through various media, a multi-input process that may compound an organization's search for effective recruitment. A critical decision an organization must make about its recruitment practices involves the accuracy or realism about the information it provides. Organizations are increasingly and justifiably concerned with the effectiveness of their recruitment messages, an organizational focus which is even more critical in times of low unemployment and significant competition for skilled workers. How organizations disseminate information through selected sources becomes an issue directly related to recruitment success or failure. Message delivery can vary by the nature of the message, nature of the messenger and the timing of its use in the recruitment process. Recruitment messages are designed to influence the job applicants' attitudes and behaviors toward eventual personnel acquisition. For example, one approach is to "sell" the job and the organization by portraying them in the most favorable light, by emphasizing positive features and either minimizing or completely disregarding negative features (Barber, 1998). There is little systematic consideration in recruitment research of the type of information to include, how information affects job applicant's attitudes, and how the information is received and processed by the perspective applicant or candidate. Despite the protracted inquiry into the use and effectiveness of realistic job preview explanations, questions remain unanswered as to why such studies have produced contradictory findings. It is evident that many process issues about the effectiveness and usefulness of engaging in the practice of realistic recruitment remain and thus motivate this study.

The purpose of the present study is to simultaneously examine how information is presented by organizations and processed by perspective job applicants, and the effect each has on attitudes towards a target job. We focus on the moderating effect of individual differences in need for cognition (NFC), on the processing of framed recruitment messages and source credibility during realistic job previews (RJPs). First, the RJP literature is reviewed and then the theoretical background of the research will be discussed. An experimental study is then presented which investigates the interactive effects of need for cognition, message framing and source credibility.

REALISTIC JOB PREVIEWS

Most of the concern with staffing organizations involves getting matches between job candidates' capabilities and organizational requirements on the one hand and the job candidates' wants and needs and organizational climates and culture on the other (Wanous et al, 1992). RJPs have been extensively researched by McEvoy and Casio (1987), Premack and Wanous (1985), Wanous (1977, 1980), Wanous et al. (1992), and Phillips (1998). The primary focus of RJP research is employee retention with a secondary interest in applicant attraction (Rynes, 1992). Researchers interested in retention rates focus on hypotheses concerning serf-selection, while researchers interested in early work adjustment are generally concerned with met expectations. The self-selection hypothesis posits that matching individual needs with organizational climates lowers turnover rates by producing a better fit between individual and organizational characteristics (Wanous, 1980). The met expectations hypothesis posits that individuals are less likely to quit once they have been "inoculated" or given realistic information about the job as employees tend to be less dissatisfied because early job experiences match pre-employment expectations. It is clear, however, that these two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive and their effective integration may promote personnel recruitment that is ultimately more successful.

Theories about RJPs share a basic assumption that the message is received and processed by the applicant. …

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