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Grant will support digital tools for underserved job seekers

A keyboard with a button labeled "job search". Image credit: Niek Verlaan via PixabayANN ARBOR—As more employers turn to sites like LinkedIn, CareerBuilder and Snagajob to recruit talent, job seekers from low-income areas or who have limited education often are left out, which one University of Michigan researcher hopes to change.

Tawanna Dillahunt, assistant professor at the U-M School of Information and College of Engineering, has received a $499,729 National Science Foundation grant to help improve digital employment recruitment tools for these underserved job seekers.

Dillahunt's study is entitled "CHS: Small: Designing Next Generation Digital Employment and Recruitment Intervention Tools: Identifying Technical Features to Support Underserved Job Seekers in the U.S."

Employers in nontechnical sectors increasingly use 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 says.

Tawanna DillahuntTawanna Dillahunt"Organizations save money by automating their employment practices. This is a win for the organization, but this solution excludes those with limited technology access, low digital literacy, and those who have limited confidence in the use of technology."

The use of social media only compounds the problem, she adds.

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. Dillahunt and her team hope to evaluate well-known human-computer interaction methods to identify the social, behavioral reactions by the underserved to three specific, alternative digital employment applications.

By isolating research gaps in digital recruitment tools, the study, Dillahunt says, "will ultimately lead to better digital employment and recruitment software."

 

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