There’s a real stigma associated with people who have been out of work for more than six months or those who are prone to job hopping.
To find out how hiring managers feel view these candidates, economist Rand Ghayad and William Dickens conducted an experiment where they sent out 4,800 fictitious résumés for 600 job openings. They found that managers would rather hire people with no relevant job experience than someone who’s been unemployed for a long time or has had several jobs in a short period of time.
The fake people represented in the résumés were looking for work for different reasons and were in different industries, but they were all male, had racially ambiguous names and similar education backgrounds.
Below is a chart from the paper illustrating how little it matters if you have experience in the industry you’re applying for because “the first thing employers look at is how long you’ve been out of work, and that’s the only thing they look at if it’s been six months or longer,” writes Matthew O’Brien at The Atlantic.
O’Brien says: “Long-term unemployment is a terrifying trap. Once you’ve been out of work for six months, there’s little you can do to find work. Employers put you at the back of the jobs line, regardless of how strong the rest of your resume is. After all, they usually don’t even look at it.”
Basically, even when candidates had better credentials, they were not given an opportunity because they’ve been out of work for so long.
The research also found that hiring managers tend to discriminate against job hoppers as well, but this stigma is not as profound as someone who’s been out of work for a few months.
However, Evolv, a data provider that uses analytics to study employee retention, found in a separate report that there’s no “statistically significant difference” when it comes to predicting someone’s performance or tenure based on their previous work history. The report says:
“When comparing long-term employment history data with ultimate tenure across a population of over 100,000 applicants, there was virtually no difference in employment outcomes based on how many jobs a person had, or even how many short-term jobs they had previously.”
Beyond anything, what matters most in hires is whether they’re a cultural fit, and whether they’ll receive proper training and guidance from their direct managers.
Evolv’s report was based on more than 7,000 hourly workers in the U.S. and Asia Pacific. Currently, the company is in the process of analysing the results as part of an ongoing collaboration with The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.