Frequent Job Changes Can Signal Poor Work Attitude and Reduce Employability

46 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2019

See all articles by Alain Cohn

Alain Cohn

University of Michigan

Michel André Maréchal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Frédéric Schneider

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School

Roberto A. Weber

University of Zurich - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

We study whether employment history provides information about a worker's "work attitude," i.e., the tendency to act cooperatively and reliably in the workplace. We conjecture that, holding all else equal, frequent job changes can indicate poor work attitude and that this information is transmitted through employment histories. We find support for this hypothesis across three studies that employ complementary lab, field, and survey experiments, as well as in labor market panel data. First, a tightly controlled laboratory labor market experiment demonstrates that prior employment information allows employers to screen for reliable and cooperative workers and that these workers obtain better employment outcomes. Second, we conduct a field experiment that varies the frequency of job changes in applicants' resumes and find that those with fewer job changes receive substantially more callbacks from prospective employers. Third, a survey experiment with Human Resources professionals confirms that the resume manipulations in the field study create different perceptions of work attitude and that these largely account for the callback differences. Finally, we find evidence consistent with our hypothesized relationships in empirical labor market data. Our work highlights the potential importance of job history as a signal of work attitude in labor markets, and points to a potential cost of frequent job changes.

JEL Classification: C900, C930, J010, E240

Suggested Citation

Cohn, Alain and Maréchal, Michel André and Schneider, Frédéric and Weber, Roberto A., Frequent Job Changes Can Signal Poor Work Attitude and Reduce Employability (2019). CESifo Working Paper No. 7976. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3502023

Alain Cohn (Contact Author)

University of Michigan ( email )

105 S State St
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Michel André Maréchal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Frédéric Schneider

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom

Roberto A. Weber

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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