Sense-making of employment: on whether and why people read employment advertising



This paper suggests a process of sense-making of “employment“ and identifies employment ads to be useful agents in this process. It is suggested that individuals read ads in surveillance of the employment market in addition to reading them to search for employment vacancies. Employment ads are suggested to be a forum for organizational self-presentation that offers current information about the employment exchange as it is viewed by employers. Two exploratory studies are presented to support the thesis. Study 1 is an inductive survey of people's reading of employment ads, showing that people read ads even if they are not looking for a job because they view ads as a source of insight about the employment environment. Study 2 reviews the content of employment ads, showing them to convey prevailing elements of the idea of employment, namely that employment is an exchange of employee skills and responsibilities for organizational intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Recognizing the individual need for sense-making of employment, and identifying employment ads as a source of information about employment, opens up a new area for research and practice on recruiting, organizational self-presentation, and sense-making. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.