Year of Study in Programme: Fourth

Supervisor: Dr Melissa Moyer

Area/Topic of Research: Sociolinguistics

Title/Provisional Title of Thesis: The Role of English in the Hiring Process

Short Abstract: This thesis is an enquiry into practices of recruitment agencies that find workers for businesses in Barcelona, Spain. Language skills represent one of the main requisites in contemporary hiring, which is both an outcome of the economy organization, and a feature of the labour market with rather high unemployment figures. Looking at how language partakes in selection of candidates for job openings helps us define the role of language in jobs allocation.
Thus, English skills are commonly used as a mechanic tool to sift through candidate pools and refine searches. Also, while the requirement for English is not always straightforward, it skews the outcome of a selection process towards more proficient candidates. Furthermore, English skills levels requested by clients, which become an obligation for candidate searches, do not match the actual usage of the language on the job, and hence they are contested by recruiters. The logic of recruitment has it that English drives up the value of highly language-wise skilful profiles. In contrast, it adds and extra layer of insecurity for weaker candidates who happen to face labour risks.

The contribution of this study is to a largely explored area of sociolinguistics that delves into language issues in work contexts (Angouri, 2018, Flubacher, M., Coray, R., Duchêne A, 2018, Kraft, 2017, Pajaro, 2018, Holborow, 2018). Focus on how language skills play out in an earlier overlooked pre-work setting in Spain yet opens up a perspective on power of a mere language requisite and practices associated with it to foster unequal and highly problematic access to jobs.