Study shows accepting low skill-level jobs negatively affects future employment

Anusha Lalani

Individuals who accept a job below their skill level could potentially be penalized when applying for future employment, according to a recent study conducted by a professor in the College of Liberal Arts.

Assistant sociology professor David Pedulla is the sole author of the study, “Penalized or Protected? Gender and the Consequences of Nonstandard and Mismatched Employment Histories,” which focuses on employment situations that could be potentially penalizing when applying for jobs in the future.

Pedulla conducted his study by submitting nearly 2,500 fictitious applications for over 1,200 job openings in five cities across the U.S. The study found that for men and women working below their skill level, only 5 percent of applicants received a positive employer response. Having part-time employment on an application, on the other hand, only negatively affected men and had no negative effect on women. Temporary agency employment, Pedulla said, had little effect on either gender.  

Mannan Ali, management information studies and corporate communications junior, who works part-time at a real estate company, said he feels the study’s results could vary based on the demographics of the person who is applying for a job.

“If an employer looks at my resume and saw that I was working a part-time job while I was in college, then I believe it would help my case to get a full-time offer,” Ali said. “[But] if I was laid off, in my 40s and had a part-time job as my most recent form of employment, then I believe it would hurt me.”

Ali also said the results could vary because of economic conditions and individuals experiences.

“[This study] shows from an economic standpoint that employers are less willing to hire someone who isn’t working on their skills,” Ali said. “Thus, if someone is having to make ends meet, they will have a tougher time getting out of that situation even though they have a stronger skill set.”

Economics sophomore Anica Ali, who previously worked at Chick-fil-A, said she believes the results of the study are accurate but that work ethic is valued by employers above other factors.

“I think having a good work ethic and learning the value of money is relevant,” Ali said. “It’s competitive, and the chances of you getting the position without any previous experience [are] difficult.”