Solving the chicken-or-egg job problem

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Article Highlights

  • How do you get experience when every job requires experience?

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  • Does providing short experience help in the job search?

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  • Veuger: New research shows how experience is related to the jobs search

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You know the complaint: "I'm trying to find a job, but everywhere I look I see experience required. How am I supposed to accumulate experience if I need experience to gain experience?" I've heard the story twice this week alone. It is of particular importance during what is still a slow recovery, with high rates of unemployment and, especially, youth unemployment. Why does it happen? And how do you get yourself a chicken or an egg if you start out with neither?

Harvard economist Amanda Pallais has, in a new research paper, tried to provide answers to these questions. "How?" you may ask. Well, by hiring lots of people without experience and seeing whether that helps them, of course. To avoid having to meet the capital requirements necessary to set up a Terry McAuliffe-style "manufacturing" facility, she hired workers on oDesk, a global online marketplace. On oDesk, employers post jobs, and workers can then apply for those jobs by setting a wage. Employers can see some demographic info, test-based certifications and, importantly, workers' previous oDesk experience and associated evaluations.

The full text of this article is available on US News & World Report’s website. It will be posted to AEI.org on Thursday, August 15, 2013.

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