Well, no and yes.
There’s a new paper out by Kory Kroft, Fabian Lange, and Matthew Notowidigdo that does a field experiment on this question. They sent out resumes with varying levels of employment and unemployment to online job openings in 100 cities and tracked call-back rates.
They found that you’re more likely to get a job if you’ve been recently unemployed than if you’re currently employed, but the longer you’re unemployed, the less likely it is that you’re going to be re-employed any time soon.
Long periods of unemployment on your resume hurt you. Even if your resume is fantastic otherwise. Employers assume that if someone hasn’t snapped you up yet, there must be a good reason for that.
On top of that, they suggest that in areas with high unemployment, employers are less likely to hold your current unemployment against you as a sign of bad quality.
What does this mean for you?
Well, it means that you should hit the ground running with any layoff or other job-loss. If you don’t find full-time work right away, find some way of accounting for your time. Are you doing part-time consulting work? Freelancing?
Another important thing to note is that most jobs are found via networks. This study was only able to look at the effect of cold applications to job postings. Things may be different if a professional contact can vouch for you.
Have you had any experience either as a job seeker or an employer with unemployment duration and hireability? Do you think long-term unemployment is a signal of worker productivity? How do you signal you’re productive?