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McDonald, Steve (2005). Patterns of Informal Job Matching across the Life Course: Entry-Level, Reentry-Level, and Elite Non-Searching. Sociological Inquiry, 75(3), 403-428.


The character and outcomes of informal job matching vary at different stages during people's lives. This is illustrated through an examination of non-searchers—people who get their jobs without searching thanks to receiving unsolicited information about job openings. Examining data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I identify three distinct patterns of non-searching. Early in the work career, "entry-level" non-searchers acquire their first few jobs often while still in school. During the mid-career, "reentry-level" non-searchers tend to be women with little work experience who have been out of the labor market taking care of family responsibilities. Finally, "elite" non-searchers tend to be male, highly experienced in their field, with very short gaps between employment. All three lack an economic urgency to get a job, but only the elite non-searchers match prevailing assumptions of non-searchers as the best connected and most advantaged workers. These findings highlight the importance of incorporating a life course perspective into the study of informal job matching.


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Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Sociological Inquiry


McDonald, Steve