Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Waite, Sean

2nd Supervisor

Schaffer, Scott


The following dissertation implements a résumé audit study to test whether listing a study exchange on a job application increases the likelihood of being invited to a job interview. The audit study also tests for differences in the number of job interview invitations by the study exchange location. Following this audit study, 20 interviews were conducted with employers that typically hire for white-collar occupations to understand if study exchanges signify essential qualities that make students more employable post-graduation.

According to the audit results, study exchanges provide a slight advantage during the résumé vetting stage of the hiring process for jobs that require travel. Study exchanges, however, did not differ in the number of invitations to job interviews applicants received without such requirements. Regardless of the location of the study exchange, this finding remains the same. Interviews with employers provided insight into the mechanisms underlying audit study results and how they evaluate study exchange experiences. Based on interviews, employers believe study exchanges equip students with employable skills, including adaptability, independence, and openness to new ideas. However, a company's ability to value these skills depends on activities undertaken abroad and how they relate to its operations. For example, skills earned abroad would be more useful in careers involving interacting with diverse clients. Employers also recommend that students study at a location where they can develop relevant skills for their future careers.

Summary for Lay Audience

This mixed-methods research examines whether study exchanges provide an advantage for students in the job market after graduation. To understand the impact of study exchanges on the hiring process, including the effects of location and gender, this research implements a résumé audit study and semi-structured interviews with employers. A résumé audit was conducted by sending a pair of nearly identical fictitious job applicants, with one of the applicants including a one-semester study exchange on their application, to real employers. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with employers to gain deeper insights into the mechanisms driving the audit study results and how study exchanges impact different stages of the hiring process.

The analysis of the audit study revealed one valuable insight. In jobs requiring the applicant to travel for work, the study exchange produced a slight advantage during the résumé vetting stage of the hiring process. However, without such requirements, study exchanges did not differ in the number of invitations to job interviews applicants received. This finding did not change regardless of the study exchange location or the gender of the job applicant.

As well as providing additional insights into the mechanisms underlying audit study results, semi-structured interviews offer insight into how employers evaluate international experiences. These interviews reveal several noteworthy findings. First, study exchanges convey valuable employable skills, such as adaptability, independence, and exposure to new ideas. Study exchanges also signal the personality traits of job applicants, such as courage, ambition, and open-mindedness. These traits are relevant for many companies, as employers often seek independent, communicative, and outgoing job applicants.Second, the value of study exchanges depends on the activities undertaken abroad by individuals and the links to the company’s operations. Furthermore, employers also encourage job applicants to study in locations that help develop relevant job-specific skills. However, which locations would help develop such skills vary widely among employers.

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