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University of Basel

24 August 2017

Recruiters: Job Hoppers Have Poor Employment Prospects

Employee and boss handshaking after a job interview. (Image: Fotolia)

Young people who frequently change jobs or work in positions that are unrelated to their vocational or academic studies are hampering their job chances. Indiscriminate measures that aim to get unemployed people back to work as quickly as possible and in temporary positions can therefore put them at a disadvantage. This is the finding of a University of Basel study, which analyzed information provided by recruiters in four countries.

As part of the EU research project “Negotiate – Overcoming early job-insecurity in Europe”, sociologists at the University of Basel surveyed HR departments and recruiters in Bulgaria, Greece, Norway and Switzerland. In Switzerland, 550 recruiters from the mechanics, finance and insurance, gastronomy, nursing and IT sectors took part in the survey in 2016. The study was funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation and headed up by Dr. Christian Imdorf and Professor Max Bergman.

Fictitious CVs

The aim of the study was to better understand the career prospects of young people making the transition from training into the workplace in various national labor markets. Each recruiter was asked to assess the CVs of ten fictitious applicants who had completed their training or education and had five years’ professional experience. The CVs contained a range of information on their education path, work experience and gender. Some also noted periods of unemployment, non-career specific work or frequent job changes.

According to study director Imdorf, initial analyses of the Swiss data indicate that the significance of unemployment in relation to job prospects is overestimated. By contrast, the recruiters perceive other forms of job insecurity – for example, unskilled work in a call center or frequent job changes – as problematic. Phases of unemployment are viewed unfavorably, however, if they arise due to health reasons or if they come along with the participation in a job creation scheme.

Dead-end jobs

Despite the differing employment market conditions in the four countries analyzed, some of the study’s findings were similar across the board. For Switzerland, the results have particular significance in the assessment of employment market measures, says Imdorf: “Measures that aim to get skilled unemployed people back to work as quickly as possible could be wide of the mark in the longer term.” This applies in particular to temporary jobs that are unrelated to an individual’s education and training, and could end in a blind alley for the people involved. 

Further information

PD Dr. Christian Imdorf, University of Basel, Sociology, Tel. +41 61 207 28 15, email: christian.imdorf@unibas.ch

Further information
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