Employers: Does Unemployment Affect Your Perception of Job Candidates?

A new study suggests that people who have been unemployed longer are more likely to be passed up for interviews.

Through services like job boards and online communities, as well as face-to-face networking, associations often play a key role in helping their members find new positions. But for members who are unemployed and looking, what sort of stigma could they face on the job market?

According to a new study, it’s fairly strong.

“Duration Dependence and Labor Market Conditions: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment,” a report put out by the National Bureau of Economic Research, used a novel experiment — the sending of 12,054 fake resumes for 3,040 real jobs — to see how unemployment affected the results.

Their findings? Callback rates for a person unemployed for a month were high, at roughly 7 percent, but went down by 45 percent between the first month and the eighth month. The level stayed steady beyond the eighth month. (Also, a surprise: A newly unemployed person had a better chance at scoring an interview than a currently employed person.)

The study focused on three specific areas — sales, customer service, and clerical/administrative. The highest drop-off rate? Sales.

“That makes some sense,” Fabian Lange, one of the paper’s authors, explained to The New York Times. “If you’re in sales, you’re supposed to sell something. If you’ve been unemployed for six or seven months, you’re not that good at selling yourself, so why should an employer take a chance on you?”

One other interesting data point? Areas with higher unemployment tend to favor people who have been unemployed for longer periods over people who had recently lost their jobs — a possible nod to bad economic stretches, according to the study.

When hiring, does a period of unemployment affect your perception of a candidate’s work, even indirectly? Should it?

(TMG archive photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!