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Networking as an information behaviour during job search: A study of active jobseekers in the Scottish youth labour market

John Mowbray (Department of Social and Political Science, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Hazel Hall (Centre for Social Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 19 December 2019

Issue publication date: 11 February 2020




Although social networks are considered influential to employment outcomes, little is known about the behavioural manifestation of networking during job search. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of networking amongst 16–24 year old active jobseekers living in Scotland.


A sequential, mixed methods approach was applied to gather data, including interviews (no. of participants=7), a focus group (no. of participants=6) and a survey questionnaire (no. of participants=558). The study design was underpinned by a prominent model from the field of Information Science. As such, job search networking has been treated as an information behaviour.


The findings show that young people acquire different types of information from network contacts throughout job search, and that frequent networking is associated with positive outcomes. This is especially true of engaging with family members, acquaintances and employers. However, barriers such as a lack of confidence or awareness mean that few young people make the most of their social contacts when seeking work.

Practical implications

Careers professionals can use this knowledge to advise clients on maximising the potential of social networks as sources of job search information.


A key contribution of this work is that it provides a detailed insight into a topic that has been neglected in previous studies: that of the process of job search networking as an information behaviour.



ESRC (Grant No. ED/J500136/1) and Skills Development Scotland provided the funding for this research. Skills Development Scotland also provided the authors with some assistance in seeking participants for the survey element of the primary research.


Mowbray, J. and Hall, H. (2020), "Networking as an information behaviour during job search: A study of active jobseekers in the Scottish youth labour market", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 76 No. 2, pp. 424-439.



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