ASFEE 6 in Paris

Authors > Weber Roberto

Job History, Work Attitude, and Employability
Alain Cohn  1@  , Michel Maréchal  2@  , Frédéric Schneider  3@  , Roberto Weber  4@  
1 : University of Chicago  -  Website
Edward H. Levi Hall 5801 South Ellis Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60637 -  United States
2 : University of Zürich  (UZH)  -  Website
Blümlisalpstrasse 10, CH-8006 Zürich -  Switzerland
3 : University of Zürich  (UZH)  -  Website
Blümlisalpstrasse 10, CH-8006 Zürich -  Switzerland
4 : University of Zürich  (UZH)  -  Website
Blümlisalpstrasse 10, CH-8006 Zürich -  Switzerland

We study whether employment history can provide information about a worker's non-cognitive skills—in particular about “work attitude,” or the ability to work well and cooperatively with others. Our hypothesis is that, holding all else equal, a worker's frequent job changes can indicate poorer work attitude, and that this information can be transmitted in labor markets through employment histories. We provide support for this hypothesis across three studies that employ complementary field, lab and survey experiments. First, using a laboratory labor market in which the only valuable characteristic of workers is their reliability in cooperating with an employer's effort requests, we demonstrate that prior employment information allows employers to screen for such reliability and allows high-reliability workers to obtain better employment outcomes. Second, we conduct a field experiment in which we vary the frequency of job changes in fictitious job applicants' resumes. Those applicants with fewer job changes are more likely to receive callbacks from prospective employers. A third survey experiment with human resource professionals confirms that the resume manipulations in the field study create different perceptions of work attitude. Our work highlights the potential importance of job history as a signal of worker characteristics, and points to a cost for workers of frequent job changes. 

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