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Working Papers

April 2012, No. 12-03R

Systematic Job Search: New Evidence from Individual Job Application Data (Revised September 2014)

Marianna Kudlyak, Damba Lkhagvasuren and Roman Sysuyev

We use novel high-frequency panel data on individuals' job applications from a job posting website to study how job seekers direct their applications over the course of a job search. We find that at the beginning of search there is sorting of applicants across vacancies by education. As the search continues, education becomes a weaker predictor of which job a job seeker applies for, and an average job seeker applies for jobs that are a first-week choice of less educated job seekers. The findings suggest that search is systematic, whereby a job seeker samples high-wage opportunities first and lower-wage opportunities later. The findings are consistent with the literature that documents declining reservation wages and provide evidence in favor of theories of job seekers' learning.

(Note: This paper was initially posted under the title "Sorting by Skill Over the Course of Job Search.")