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Noncognitive skills and job match: evidence from military applicants

Elda Pema, Stephen Mehay and Simona Tick

Defence and Peace Economics, 2017, vol. 28, issue 5, 511-533

Abstract: The study examines the effect of noncognitive skills on early career choices among young job seekers. Specifically, we analyze the influence of personality traits on the decision by military applicants either to choose the military or a civilian career option. We use a unique micro-level data-set of applicants to the US Navy and exploit the fact that many individuals who initially apply for military jobs eventually choose civilian careers instead. In this institutional setting, job candidates use new information to update their beliefs about the military job match. Personality traits are viewed as productive abilities that influence applicants’ expectations about the economic return to the job and occupational training offered by the Navy. The study finds that many of the 15 lower order personality facets associated with the Big Five traits are predictive of applicants’ job choices and provides suggestive evidence of a link between personality traits, job match expectations, and career choice.

Date: 2017
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