New tool can help job searchers better position themselves in market

November 21, 2017, Carnegie Mellon University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

With the decline of manufacturing, the U.S. economy has increasingly shifted toward knowledge-based production: industries focused on implementing new ideas surrounding technology, product design, machine learning, and other areas as their source of revenue. In this new economy, it can be challenging to evaluate the skillset of an individual, as combinations of various skills are important. For example, a software developer with design skills may be more valuable than a software developer with Russian translation skills.

A novel method, developed by an economist at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, has been created to evaluate a 's skillset and determine its impact on wages. The model appears in the scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"The interactions between skills are represented by a skill network. Skills on the network are connected if there are workers in the who have both," said Katharine Anderson, assistant professor of economics and entrepreneurship, who developed the model. "The position of a worker's skills on the network indicates the type of worker she is, how diverse her skills are, and how well they work in combination."

Anderson used an online freelance labor and found that workers with diverse skills tend to fall into two different groups: 'jacks of all trades,' who use skills independently and have more job options, or 'synergistic workers,' who use their skills in effective combinations. Anderson found workers with diverse skills tend to earn higher wages, and those who use their diverse skills synergistically earn the highest wages of all.

"These findings are particularly important in online labor markets because employers are using them more frequently, and the candidates they see are selected algorithmically," said Anderson. "Workers need to carefully craft their profiles to attract employers."

The research introduces a method that can characterize a worker's combination of skills (e.g., how diverse they are, how much they are in demand, and how well they work together) and can help employers with hiring decisions as well as workers trying to position themselves in the labor market. The findings suggest that workers who can use their diverse skills synergistically to fill a hole in the labor market will likely earn the highest wages. By providing a better way to characterize worker skill sets, this method could potentially improve online search algorithms, and help workers to better position themselves in the market.

"This model shows there is an opportunity to improve the online market search algorithms and better match employers and employees," said Anderson. "Using this information, we can help job searchers better position themselves in the market, match employers to top talent, and inform worker training decisions."

Explore further: Low wages not education to blame for skills gap

More information: Katharine A. Anderson, Skill networks and measures of complex human capital, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1706597114

Related Stories

The right women for the job

October 10, 2017

Work in America has changed dramatically in the last century from Henry Ford's moving assembly line to automation today, but arguably the largest change is women. Women's participation in the labor force has nearly doubled ...

Soft skills training boosts productivity

January 20, 2017

Workers with well-honed soft skills—time and stress management, problem-solving, communication and good teamwork, for example—tend to work at better firms and fetch higher wages.

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Nov 21, 2017

Another way for industry to arbitrarily and artificially depress compensation, while claiming legitimacy for doing so, all under the rubric of scientific objectivity.

This methodology will lead to nothing more than the (at least temporary) success of those most skilled at exploiting(ie, self-promotion) the perceived job description.

As we all know, skill at self-promotion and job fitness are usually two entirely different things.

Since it can be foreseen that this will lead to serial bad matches in job positions a significant part of the time, employers will offer less starting pay, and insist on new hires serving out a trial period before any raise will be offered, and even then will probably only provide "top pay" after a step-wise increase structure.
1 / 5 (3) Nov 23, 2017
A serious error in the methodology of this study seems to be assuming people don't lie on their online resumes. Rather than picking the person most appropriate for the position it will instead pick those most talented at lying or extrapolating minor experience in a skill to "expertise".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.