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Labor Market Signaling and the Value of College: Evidence from Resumes and the Truth

Daniel Kreisman (), Jonathan Smith () and Bondi Arifin ()
Additional contact information
Jonathan Smith: Georgia State University
Bondi Arifin: Indonesia Ministry of Finance

No 14483, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: How do college non-completers list schooling on their resumes? The negative signal of not completing might outweigh the positive signal of attending but not persisting. If so, job-seekers might hide non-completed schooling on their resumes. To test this we match resumes from an online jobs board to administrative educational records. We find that fully one in three job-seekers who attended college but did not earn a degree omit their only post-secondary schooling from their resumes. We further show that these are not casual omissions but are strategic decisions systematically related to schooling characteristics, such as selectivity and years of enrollment. We also find evidence of lying, and show which degrees listed on resumes are most likely untrue. Lastly, we discuss implications. We show not only that this implies a commonly held assumption, that employers perfectly observe schooling, does not hold, but also that we can learn about which college experiences students believe are most valued by employers.

Keywords: signaling; resume; employer learning; statistical discrimination; jobs board (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J01 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 38 pages
Date: 2021-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu, nep-lma and nep-sea
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