A study on the behavior of young job seekers in the face of digital technology
FRAMEWORK – You conducted research* on the integration of “digital natives” 18 months after graduation. What question did you ask yourself at the start?
John Pralong: We wondered if those who are called “digital natives” are comfortable with digitalized recruitment platforms, namely CV databases, social networks, cooptation applications. Do they manage to take advantage of it in order to find the job that suits them. And to be rigorous, we studied young holders of a Master’s degree who should be comfortable with digital technology – without necessarily being a computer engineer – or having a diploma deemed difficult for integration. We followed 287 young people and what my colleague Marie Peretti-N’Diaye, who has a doctorate in sociology and has the gift of making people talk**, very quickly spotted during the individual interviews surprised us.
What did you hear?
Some young people believe that the labor market is irrational, whether it is acted by luck or chance. They are not aware of it but have developed a kind of “magical thinking” about these tools that they see as “black boxes”. They rarely update their CVs, do not post information on social networks and are generally passive towards recruiters. The problem is that they represent around 30% of the young people questioned and they are the ones who fit in the least well after their graduation. The others – who represent 44% of young people surveyed – are able to deploy effective job search techniques and integrate better because they think and act rationally. They frequent different sites, publish regularly on social networks and do not hesitate to update their CV in the CV databases. The relevant use of these platforms that collect their information allows them easier access to employment.
For the candidate, we are no longer chosen by a recruiter, we are found by an algorithm.
This “magical thinking” which is surprising to say the least among digital natives, how do you explain it ?
Contrary to popular belief, this generation is not homogeneous. It seems that with the digitization of recruitment, some young people have become accustomed to “being found” by an algorithm rather than being chosen through an active process. For them, being recruited is luck or chance. This register of “magical thought”, the anthropologist Margaret Mead in particular encountered it among certain tribes in Oceania, during her explorations at the beginning of the 20th century. Some areas of reality cannot be understood by logical thought. They come under “mana”, both magic and spell. It is found in these young job seekers who consider that they were “lucky” to be contacted rather than associating this contact with a logical sequence of actions.
Digitization would therefore have led to a wait-and-see attitude?
When we think of “being found” rather than “being chosen”, we tend to adopt passive postures… These young people are waiting for it to come.
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Can the platforms in question act to discourage this “wishful thinking”?
Probably yes. These labor market intermediaries have a training role to play with candidates who are passive with respect to digital tools. In particular, they can systematically set up training in the use of platforms and initiations into the operation of algorithms.
Recommendations to candidates?
When you write your CV or your profile, you have to think about inserting keywords in order to be spotted. It is also recommended to try to understand how the algorithms work: monitor the profiles of classmates, test several profiles and measure their performance (number of views, number of contacts, etc.) and adjust according to the results. When you are called, ask your interlocutor why he contacted us, post regularly on the networks, etc. In short, do not remain in a waiting position and act daily by remaining active.
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