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Who Says Yes When the Headhunter Calls? Understanding Executive Job Search Behavior

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  • Peter Cappelli
  • Monika Hamori

Abstract

We examine an aspect of job search in the important context of executive-level jobs using a unique data set from a prominent executive search firm. Specifically, we observe whether or not executives pursue offers to be considered for a position at other companies. The fact that the initial call from the search firm, which we observe, is an exogenous event for the executive makes the context particularly useful. We use insights from the Multi-Arm Bandit problem to analyze the individual's decision as it emphasizes assessments of future prospects in the decision process, which are particularly relevant for executive careers. More than half the executives we observe were willing to be a candidate for a job elsewhere. Executives are more likely to search where their current roles are less certain and where their career experience has been broader. Search is more likely even for broader experience within the same employer. In the latter case, the array of likely opportunities is also broader, making search more useful.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Cappelli & Monika Hamori, 2013. "Who Says Yes When the Headhunter Calls? Understanding Executive Job Search Behavior," NBER Working Papers 19295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19295 Note: LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2013. "The Life-Cycle Profile of Time Spent on Job Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 111-116, May.
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    3. Jeremy Lise, 2013. "On-the-Job Search and Precautionary Savings," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(3), pages 1086-1113.
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    5. McCall, B P & McCall, J J, 1987. "A Sequential Study of Migration and Job Search," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages 452-476, October.
    6. Miller, Robert A, 1984. "Job Matching and Occupational Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1086-1120, December.
    7. Robert E. Hall & Alan B. Krueger, 2012. "Evidence on the Incidence of Wage Posting, Wage Bargaining, and On-the-Job Search," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 56-67, October.
    8. Conyon, Martin J, et al, 2002. "The Productivity and Wage Effects of Foreign Acquisition in the United Kingdom," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 85-102, March.
    9. Gueorgui Kambourov & Iourii Manovskii, 2009. "Occupational Mobility and Wage Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(2), pages 731-759.
    10. DeFond, Mark L. & Park, Chul W., 1999. "The effect of competition on CEO turnover1," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-56, February.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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