Skills, Signals, and Employability: An Experimental Investigation

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 20.02.2018, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Guido Schwerdt (University of Konstanz)


As skills of labor-market entrants are usually not directly observed by employers, graduates acquire skill signals. To study which signals are valued as relevant and credible by employers, we randomly vary a broad range of skill signals on pairs of resumes of hypothetical applicants among which we ask a large representative sample of German human-resource managers to choose. We analyze signals in three domains: cognitive skills, social skills, and maturity. We find that signals in all three domains have a significant effect on being invited for a job interview. The specific signal that is relevant in each domain differs between apprenticeship applicants and college graduates. While grades are significant for both genders, males are particularly rewarded for maturity and females for IT, language, and social skills. Older HR managers and managing directors value school grades less and other signals more, whereas HR managers in larger firms value college grades more.

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