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IACM 2023

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Reducing Discrimination Against Job Seekers With and Without Employment Gaps

Past research shows that decision-makers discriminate against applicants with career breaks. Career breaks are common due to caring responsibilities, especially for working mothers, thereby leaving job seekers with employment gaps on their résumés. In a pre-registered audit field experiment in the United Kingdom (N = 9,022), we show that rewriting a résumé so that previously held jobs are listed with the number of years worked (instead of employment dates) increases callbacks from real employers compared to résumés without employment gaps by approximately 8%. A series of lab studies (an online pilot and two pre-registered experiments; N = 2,650) shows this effect holds for both female and male applicants—even when compared to applicants without employment gaps—as well as for applicants with less and more total job experience. The effect is driven by making the applicant’s job experience salient, not as a result of novelty or ease of reading.

Ariella Kristal
Columbia Business School
United States

Leonie Nicks
Behavioural Insights Team

Jamie Gloor
University of StGallen

Oliver Hauser
University of Exeter


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