Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Realistic Job Previews in the Trucking Industry

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Realistic Job Previews in the Trucking Industry

Article excerpt

Recruitment in the 1990s may become the most important function in human resource management (Lord, 1989). There are several reasons for this. One simply is that recruitment leads to the acquisition of some of a firm's most important resources - its human resources. As more and more organizations are coming to realize, productivity gains do not come solely from technology. In the final analysis, human resources are the catalysts that stimulate new productivity and enhance product/service quality (Benson, 1990; Werther et al., 1986). Moreover, recruitment is a very expensive activity. Bargerstock (1990) estimates that it costs from $3,212 to $6,076 to hire a nonmanagerial employee.

Both the importance and cost of recruiting are likely to increase dramatically due to fundamental changes now occurring in the U.S. work force. As the end of the population bulge produced by the "baby boomers" is reached, the available work force will increase at a slower rate than any time since the 1930s (Johnston and Packer, 1987). The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the 16- to 24-year-old portion of the labor force will decline from 20 percent in 1986 to 16 percent by 2000. Since this group is the primary source of entry-level workers, such a reduction likely will lead to aggressive recruitment and higher wages for its members (Redwood, 1990). While there is not a consensus as to the severity of this shortage, the United States is on the threshold of an era in which fewer people will enter the work force (Pratt, 1990; Perry, 1991; Turban and Dougherty, 1992).

Additionally, the "boomers" are aging. In 1990, the average age of the American worker was 32 years; by the end of this decade this will increase to around 40 years (Mayrand, 1992). At the same time, the labor force participation rate of those over age 55 should continue its two-decade long decline at least through the mid-1990s (Hassell and Perrewe, 1993; Ritzer, 1989). Problems also exist at the other end of the age continuum, as the effects of the dramatic decline in the U.S. birthrate since the mid-1970s now are being experienced in the workplace (Greller and Nee, 1989). American firms already are feeling the influence of these factors on the available work force. A recent survey by Nation's Business (1991) showed that over 55 percent of the responding companies felt the labor supply is inadequate to fill their needs.

These conditions suggest that the difficult employment conditions currently experienced by job seekers may not be long-lasting. It is extremely likely that labor markets will tighten considerably, thereby forcing organizations to bid for the services of a relatively small number of qualified workers (Conference Board, 1992). Consequently, each selection decision will increase both in costs and in impact on a company's productive potential (Greller and Nee, 1989). As recruitment provides the pool of applicants from which new employees are chosen, this activity must assume new importance.

A recruiting technique that has received substantial attention over the last 15 years or so is the use of a realistic job preview (RJP) for potential employees. This technique, which is most strongly associated with Wanous (1973, 1980), is based on an intuitively appealing premise: providing applicants with a realistic preview of the job during the recruitment process allows them to make informed decisions and thereby enhances their commitment to those decisions. Theoretically, one result of this commitment is a reduction in voluntary turnover among newly hired employees.

This article reports the results of a field study that examined the relationships between new employees' perceptions of recruiter accuracy and subsequent job-related attitudes. As will be shown later, this one takes place in an industry that satisfies Breaugh's (1983) boundary conditions of RJPs. First, with far more job openings than qualified applicants, job seekers can be very selective about accepting an offer. …

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