While today's technology has improved job searches, resume creation and the ability to highlight employment skills on social media, and the ability to share employment opportunities with friends and family, these improvements have done little to support individuals who do not have the knowledges, skills or experience to participate in these online venues. Many people lack the skills needed to make the most of Internet availability.
Employers in non-technical sectors also are increasingly using online recruitment and interviewing tools. This rapid growth of information and communication technologies has created a "digital recruitment divide that works to the detriment of these underserved job seekers," Dillahunt argues.
"Organizations save money by automating their employment practices. This is a win for the organization, but this solution excludes those with limited technology accesss, low digital literacy and those who have limited confidence in the use of technology," she says.
The use of social media only compounds the problem.
The goal of Dillahunt's research is to understand the requirements for and to being building next-generation tools and applications that address the distinct needs of underserved job seekers in the U.S. The underserved job seekers are those who live in low-socioeconomic regions, have limited education, or have low income.
The project will apply the Theory of Planned Behavior as a perspective for evaluating digital employment applications. The research results will expand the theory to include digital barriers faced by underserved job seekers and stakeholders.
Previous research by Dillahunt focused on various digital recruiting obstacles and external factors faced by underserved job seekers. These include job seekers’ inability to identify needed job skills, develop good resumes, obtain additional job skills, and learn effective job interviewing techniques.
The current study will build on these findings. “We will be using well-known human-computer interaction methods to build three alternative digital employment and recruitment applications,” Dillahunt says. “This will help us to evaluate their impact on job search attitudes, or social support and self-efficacy. These are all factors that could help people obtain employment."
By isolating research gaps in digital recruitment tools, the study “will ultimately lead to better digital employment and recruitment software,” Dillahunt says.