Firm Recruitment Behaviour: Sequential or Non-sequential Search?


  • We would like to thank Knut Roed for helpful comments and Marcel Hoogzaad for excellent assistance. Jos van Ommeren is affiliated with the Tinbergen Institute, Amsterdam. He would like to thank Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for funding and the Frisch Centre, Oslo, Norway, for its hospitality. The authors are indebted to Lou Schreurs of Intomart b.v., in Hilversum (NL), for the use of the data. The authors would like to thank the Editor and one anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments and suggestions that improved the quality of the article. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of Cedefop. The usual disclaimer applies.


In the extensive job search literature, studies assume either sequential or non-sequential search. This article introduces a novel method to test the hypothesis that firms search sequentially based on the relationship between the number of rejected job applicants and the number of filled vacancies. We distinguish between ten different search methods. For most search methods, including methods that rely on social networks and temporary help agencies, we find that sequential search cannot be rejected. However, when firms use advertising or public/private employment agencies, sequential search is rejected. Hence, we find that both forms of search are relevant for our understanding of the labour market. Further, the form of search is closely related to the search method used.