Experimental Design Details
Time to bachelor’s degree will be signaled by the years listed next to the bachelor’s degree granting institution indicated on the résumé. Institutions in which the fictitious job applicants received their bachelor’s degree will be carefully selected such that there is a clear distinction between the relatively more selective and less selective colleges as measured by standard selectivity measures (e.g., average SAT scores, admit rate, etc.). These institutions will be selected to be well known public colleges located near the metropolitan area of the respective job posting, or near enough that it is common for graduates of the institution to enter the metropolitan area’s labor market (e.g., University of Georgia graduates and the Atlanta metropolitan area).
The experiment will focus on recent bachelor’s degree recipients. Thus, I will send résumés to openings to entry-level jobs that require a bachelor’s degree, but little to no required years of experience. The focus on entry-level jobs has the advantage that time to degree and postsecondary institutions are arguably most salient to employers early in the career. With the full study anticipated to be conducted during the spring of the 2022 calendar year, all résumés will list bachelor’s degree completion in 2022, with time to degree indicated by an earlier start year (i.e., 2018 or 2016). Thus, résumés sent before May will be forthcoming graduates. If data collection continues after May, the fictitious job candidates will be very recent graduates.
I plan to send the résumés to job postings in roughly 10-15 large cities in the U.S. that neatly meet the criteria of having nearby public colleges with sufficiently different selectivity. To simplify résumé creation and the job search process, the experiment will focus on business jobs, the industry with the largest employment of bachelor’s degree holders. The employment experiences in this experiment are designed to be orthogonal to the treatments such that work experience is similar between applicants with four and six years to degree.
The names listed on the résumés are chosen so that the job applicants would vary by gender and race. Email addresses and phone numbers will correspond to names and be generated through Google. To mimic a recent or forthcoming graduate, physical addresses will be assigned to be in large apartment complexes with reasonable commutes to the institution in which the student earns their bachelor’s degree. Résumés will list a high school name and graduation year. High schools will be chosen to be a large and diverse school located in the metropolitan area of the job search. High school graduation year will be the same as the applicant’s college start year, implying zero years between high school graduation and entry into college. Résumés will also be assigned one of seven business-related majors associated with their bachelor’s degree: business, accounting, economics, finance, business management, marketing, and business economics.
The final section of each résumé is a “Skills” section. I will create several skill “templates,” based on résumés posted by real job seekers with bachelor’s degrees in business fields. All templates will list skills in “Microsoft Office” in some form since this is very common among real business job seekers. The templates will also include some other technical skills such as “database management” or “salesforce” and some templates may include some “soft” skills or general attributes, like “team player” or “detail-oriented”. Skill templates will be orthogonal to the treatments, but they will be assigned without replacement within job vacancy. Thus, among résumés sent to the same job posting, résumés will not have the same skill template.