Understanding the role of organizational personality and social identity concerns on initial recruitment outcomes

X. Susan Zhu, Dev K. Dalal, Kevin P. Nolan, Janet L. Barnes-Farrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


For many job seekers, organizational affiliation can act as a signal of their values and goals. According to theory of symbolic attraction (TSA), job seekers are attracted to organizations with symbolic images (i.e., organizational personality) that help them portray a certain type of social identity. However, studies have found mixed support for TSA and this may be attributed to a lack of a broad and theoretically-based taxonomy of organizational personality. As such, we drew on multiple theoretical perspectives from the social judgment literature to develop an alternative two-factor organizational personality taxonomy. Across three studies, we first created and validated a scale to reliably and validly measure organizational personality. Then, we showed that active job seekers with different social identity needs are indeed attracted to companies that differ along the two dimensions of the new taxonomy (i.e., warmth and competence) using LinkedIn job advertisements. Finally, we used computer-aided text analysis (CATA) to index organizational personality from company mission statements but found only partial support for TSA in a sample of engineering job seekers. We contribute to the recruitment literature by exploring why certain job seekers are initially attracted to different types of organizations and discuss how TSA can be further developed and refined. Practically, our results highlight the potential utility of organizations signaling images that resonate with job seekers' social identity concerns early on in the recruitment process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103518
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Job search
  • Organizational personality
  • Recruitment
  • Social identity concerns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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