Job Search

Job Search

Job Search in the Weeks before the Survey (CPS Questions)

In rounds 1, 4, and 10, questions based on the Current Population Survey (CPS) asked NLSY97 respondents age 15 or older about job search (all respondents had reached age 15 in round 4). Respondents who did not report working in the week before the survey stated whether they had been doing anything to find work during the last four weeks. If so, the interviewer recorded the actions that had been taken (see Figure 1). If the respondent had looked for a job, follow-up questions then asked if he or she could have started a job in the past week if offered one and the reason why not, if applicable. A key aspect of the CPS questions is the distinction between active and passive search methods. Active methods could result in a job offer without any further action by the job seeker, such as having an interview with an employer or bidding on a contract. Passive search methods, such as picking up a job application or completing a resume, could not result in a job offer without further action on the part of the job seeker. Official statistical surveys like the CPS consider people who have used at least one active method in the last 4 weeks to be unemployed.

Employee Job Search

If the respondent reports gaps between employee-type jobs since the last interview, he or she is asked whether a job search was conducted during each gap. Note that in rounds 1 and 2 only respondents age 14 or older as of the interview date were eligible for gaps questions and therefore for job search questions; all respondents are age-eligible beginning in round 3. These questions ask respondents for the number of weeks during each gap that they spent looking for work. If a job search was conducted, respondents also state what methods they used in their search, choosing from the list shown in Figure 1. If there are any weeks in the gap when respondents were not looking for work and were not self-employed, they are asked why they were not looking for work (respondents born in 1980-82 were skipped past this question in round 4, as were those born in 1980-83 in round 5). In round 14, if respondents were not looking for work during a between-job gap, they were asked if they wanted a job (either full time or part time) and if they could currently start a job if one were offered.

Round 20 also included a job search question related to applying for jobs with employers. Respondents were asked to think back to the last time they applied for a job. With this in mind, they were asked if the potential employer at the time asked about their criminal history, and if so, when that occurred during the application/hiring process.

Job Search Methods

If respondents indicate that yes, they have participated in a job search, they then choose from a list of specific job search methods or actions they have taken (see Figure 1). Starting in round 12, employed respondents also were asked about job search activities that led to their current jobs (see YEMP-101300B).

Figure 1. Possible Job Search Actions

Contacted employer directly
Contacted employment agency
Through friends or relatives
Contacted a school placement center
Sent out resumes or filled out applications
Placed or answered an ad
Checked union or professional registers
Looked at ads
Employer contacted you directly
Other (Specify)

On-The-Job Search

Respondents were also asked about any job searches that took place while they were already employed. In rounds 1-11, respondents answered the question "During the time you worked/have worked for this employer, have/had you done anything to look for work?" They then provided the type of job searches they had used. In rounds 12 and 13, already employed respondents were asked "In the past three months, have you done anything to look for work?" If so, they indicated their job search methods.

The Internet and Job Searches

Beginning in round 12, after respondents indicated which job search actions they had taken, they also indicated any Internet use that was involved with these job search methods (for instance, going to a website to fill out an application or emailing an employer). If the respondents indicated Internet use for any job search action, they were asked if the employer required the use of the Internet or if there were other options available (for instance, could the respondent have made a visit, placed a telephone call, or sent something by U.S. mail instead).

Comparison to Other NLS Surveys: For the NLSY79, information includes active and passive methods of job search used and the total number of weeks spent actively looking for work. Additionally, CPS questions similar to those described above are regularly asked of respondents in each cohort. For further details, refer to the appropriate cohort's User's Guide.

Survey Instruments: Questions concerning job search in the week before the survey are found in the CPS section (question names begin with YCPS) of rounds 1, 4, and 10 of the Youth Questionnaires. The other employee job search questions are in the employment section (question names begin with YEMP) in rounds 2 and up.

Related User's Guide Sections Gaps in Employment
Labor Force Status
Main Area of Interest Employment: Job Search
Supplemental Areas of Interest Employment Gaps
Employment: Labor Force Status