Job Searching: Some Methods Yield Better Results than Others

March 20, 2014

While the unemployed broaden their search methods during times of recession, some methods have been found to be more effective than others, according to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

In a recent issue of The Regional Economist, St. Louis Fed Economist David Wiczer and Research Analyst James Eubanks examined responses to the Current Population Survey going back to 1976 to determine if the method of searching for a job impacted the likelihood of landing a job.

Wiczer and Eubanks found that the most popular method was to directly contact potential employers, which was also one of the most successful methods.  Perhaps surprisingly, those who use their network connections actually found jobs at a slower rate than the average job seeker.  They also found that those using private employment agencies fared relatively poorly, as this method had the second-lowest job-finding rates in the first month of unemployment.  Only using a public employment agency was a method with a lower rate.

Prior research has shown that the longer an individual is unemployed, the less likely he or she is to find a job.  Wiczer and Eubanks examined the effectiveness of various methods on job searches by the long-term employed.  In the first month of unemployment, the job-finding rates ranged from 46 percent for those contacting an employer directly to 32 percent for those using passive methods such as attending a job training program or updating a resume.  That gap narrowed to 5 percentage points for those unemployed for more than a year and narrowed even further to 2 percentage points if excluding passive methods.

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