Long-term unemployed less likely to get call backs

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When you receive hundreds of applications for a single position it’s easy to look for reasons to chuck a resume, but are you throwing the good out with the bad by considering long-term unemployment a black mark?

A recent study found that candidate call-backs drop significantly over the first eight months of unemployment before leveling off.

Economists from the University of Toronto, McGill University and the University of Chicago sent out 12,000 fictional resumes for 3,000 real jobs in 100 labour markets to track the effect employment status had on the likelihood to get a callback.

With the stated terms of unemployment varying from one to 36 months, the researchers tracked callbacks against duration of joblessness.

The results indicated that for jobless candidates the average callback rate declined sharply during the first eight months of unemployment and it then it stabilised. Over the first eight months of unemployment callbacks fell from 7% to 4% – a drop of 45%.

Because the rate starts to fall quite early, the researchers said loss of skills was unlikely to be the issue – instead, employers seemed to see length of unemployment as an indicator of a candidate’s productivity.

The duration of joblessness hurt the callback rate more when job markets were tight because employers were more likely to overlook prolonged joblessness when unemployment was high. When unemployment was low, employers assumed the problem was with the applicant, rather than being just bad luck.


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