Job seekers re-entering the workforce should consider modifying their CVs

Job applicants are more likely to receive a call back from an employer if their job histories specify years worked instead of employment dates.
By: | December 9, 2022

A study involving over 9,000 job vacancies in the UK found that applicants were 8% more likely to hear back from employers when their previous employments were listed by the number of years worked instead of by the dates of employment. In addition, listing years of employment experience gave job seekers a 15% greater likelihood of a call back than those with an employment gap on their CV.

Published in Nature Human Behaviour, the study attempts to explore practical ways to overcome the bias that job seekers face when returning to the workforce after a career break.

Researchers further extended the study to include male job seekers in a follow-up experiment, and they found the findings were replicated, with the modified CV outperforming even the condition without any employment gap.

In a final experiment that focused on whether the success of the redesigned CV was dependent on the amount of experience a candidate had, researchers found that it worked equally well whether applicants had five or 15 years of total working experience.

READ: Career trends that will shape the workplace in 2023

Oliver Hauser, an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Exeter Business School and senior co-author of the study, said, “We found that by replacing the standard employment dates on the résumé with the length of time of employment applicants are highlighting their experience to prospective employers, thus eliminating employment gap penalties that hinder these applicants’ advancement beyond the first gateway of the selection process.”