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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About the Author

 

Stan
Veuger

  • Stan Veuger is a resident scholar at AEI.  His academic research focuses on political economy, and has been published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics. He writes frequently for popular audiences on a variety of topics, including health and tax policy. He is a regular contributor to The Hill, The National Interest, U.S. News & World Report, and AEIdeas, AEI’s policy blog. Before joining AEI, Dr. Veuger was a teaching fellow at Harvard University and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He is a board member of the Netherland-American Foundation in Washington and at The Bulwark, a quarterly public policy journal, and was a National Review Institute Washington Fellow. He is a graduate of Utrecht University and Erasmus University Rotterdam, and holds an M.Sc. in Economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, as well as A.M. and Ph.D. degrees, also in Economics, from Harvard University. His academic research website can be found here.


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