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The Australian National University

Indigenous Job Search Success

Discussion Paper 274 / 2005


One important and under-researched aspect of labour market policy is the extent to which policy interventions are effective in modifying job search behaviour. Furthermore, there is little extant research on whether certain job search behaviours lead to labour market success. Our analysis uses the only existing large-scale longitudinal survey of Indigenous Australians to examine the effects of job search behaviour over an 18-month period from March 1996. One major finding is that the introduction of the Job Search Diary during the survey period was effective in increasing search intensity—but this increase in intensity did not result in increased employment rates. Another finding is that the job search methods used were not generally related to the probability of finding and retaining employment when a range of other personal and regional factors are taken into account. Those with a greater level of search intensity (as measured by the number of jobs applied for) at the first wave of the survey did have a significantly higher probability of finding employment than those searching less intensely. However, search intensity is unrelated to the probability of job retention. Other factors, such as educational attainment, health status, region of residence and having been arrested, account for the majority of labour market success (or lack of it) among unemployed Indigenous job seekers.

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