Whom Do Employers Want? The Role of Recent Employment and Unemployment Status and Age

44 Pages Posted: 25 May 2018

See all articles by Henry S. Farber

Henry S. Farber

Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Chris M. Herbst

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Public Affairs

Dan Silverman

Arizona State University (ASU) - W.P. Carey School of Business

Till Von Wachter

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 2018

Abstract

We use a resume audit study to better understand the role of employment and unemployment histories in affecting callbacks to job applications. We focus on how the effect of career history varies by age, partly in an attempt to reconcile disparate findings in prior studies. While we cannot reconcile earlier findings on the effect of unemployment duration, the findings solidify an emerging consensus on the role of age and employment on callback. First, among applicants across a broad age range, we find that applicants with 52 weeks of unemployment have a lower callback rate than do applicants with shorter unemployment spells. However, regardless of an applicant's age, there is no relationship between spell length and callback among applicants with shorter spells. Second, we find a hump-shaped relationship between age and callback, with both younger and older applicants having a lower probability of callback relative to prime-aged applicants. Finally, we find that those applicants who are employed at the time of application have a lower callback rate than do unemployed applicants, regardless of whether the interim job is of lower or comparable quality relative to the applied-for job. This may reflect a perception among employers that it is harder or more expensive to attract an applicant who is currently employed.

Suggested Citation

Farber, Henry S. and Herbst, Chris M. and Silverman, Dan and Von Wachter, Till, Whom Do Employers Want? The Role of Recent Employment and Unemployment Status and Age (May 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24605, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3182206

Henry S. Farber (Contact Author)

Princeton University ( email )

Industrial Relations Section
Firestone Library
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
609-258-4044 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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Chris M. Herbst

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Box 870603
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

Dan Silverman

Arizona State University (ASU) - W.P. Carey School of Business ( email )

Tempe, AZ 85287-3706
United States

Till Von Wachter

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

8283 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477
United States

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