Could information shared on social media have an impact in the hiring of military veterans upon the return to civilian life? Would the discovery of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) lead a recruiter or hiring manager to screen a veteran applicant differently?
A four-part study conducted by Christine Nittrouer, an assistant professor of management in Texas Tech University’s Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, and four other researchers examined these questions in their recently published article, “Post-traumatic stress disorder and hiring: The role of social media disclosures on stigma and hiring assessments of veterans” in the journal Personal Psychology: The Study of People at Work.
Nittrouer, who has a background in industrial and organizational psychology, worked in conjunction with Wenxi Pu from the University of Manitoba, Philip Roth from Clemson University, Jason Thatcher from Temple University and Mikki Hebl from Rice University to complete the two-year project.
Nittrouer is available to speak to the specifics of the studies, the possible long-term consequences and impact of social media as a reference in hiring practices, and how to prepare veterans for the hiring process.
Christine Nittrouer, assistant professor, management Jerry S. Rawls College of Business
- A large percentage of veterans suffering from PTSD are directed to social media platforms with groups for veterans to seek support during their transition to civilian life.
- Social media platforms are often used to screen applicants during selection, which can lead to people in hiring positions to uncover a candidate’s PTSD.
- Four separate studies were conducted to determine the impact of this discovery.
- The studies cumulatively show the stigma and perceptions of veterans with PTSD were tied to negative differences in hiring outcomes for these individuals.
- “We were interested in the experiences of military veterans having difficulty transitioning to the civilian workforce,” Nittrouer said. “We all agreed upon the negative impact of mental health and PTSD stereotypes on this group. We implemented four studies to examine what happens when recruiters and people with hiring experience discover that job applicants who are veterans have PTSD, through using social media screening as these applicants are going through the hiring process. What we found is that when military veteran job applicants’ PTSD is discovered, likely without their knowledge or permission, it increases others’ perceived stigma of these job applicants. This then decreases military veterans’ expected performance in the job, and subsequently, the recruiters’ intentions to hire them.”
- “The practice is fairly frequent;16-34% of the time across our samples, veterans in these groups discussed their PTSD on social media,” said Nittrouer. “Given the frequency of social media assessments – or using social media during selection to evaluate applicants, a practice 70% of recruiters/hiring managers say they utilize – this can meaningfully tilt the scales against a veteran with PTSD during hiring. We need good research-based evidence when advising them as to how to best transition to the civilian workforce.”
- “I think bringing awareness to the negative impact of this practice is crucial,” Nittrouer said. “If our military veterans who have PTSD are coming back from duty, being told to seek social support online, and they are transitioning to the civilian workforce at the same time, they should be told of the risks associated with sharing private information online, as well as ways to do their best to protect that information. It is important to have those resources and use them, but also to be able to weigh the risks, if finding re-employment is critical.”
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