Not Again! I’m Looking for a Job but I Don’t Know Why It Is Taking So Long!

Kanfer et al. (2001) found in their meta-analysis that, as common sense tell us, the job seekers that engage in more job search behavior are more likely to obtain employment. As well, although meta-analysis does not provide information on causal relations, the pattern of results suggest that job search is more strongly related to psychological variables comprised by the broader construct of positive affectivity (e.g., extraversion, conscientiousness, self-esteem, job search self-efficacy) than to variables encompassed by the broad construct of negative affectivity (e.g., neuroticism, agreeableness). These findings are consistent with recent work by Kinicki and Latack (1990) suggesting a difference between problem-focused and emotion-focused  coping behaviors following job loss. In terms of situational variables, motives (perceived financial need, employment commitment) were shown to be more strongly related to job search behavior than to employment outcomes, but social support and biographical factors (e.g., age, education, race) were generally similarly related to both job search behavior and employment outcomes.

Moreover, the Big-Five personality traits were more strongly related to job search behavior among first time job seekers (i.e. job entrants) compared with job losers (i.e. people who are unemployed). Self-esteem and employment commitment were more strongly related to job search among job losers than job entrants. Therefore, this pattern of findings provides evidence on the pathway by which job loss per se could exert debilitating effects in job search behavior. This further suggests that the experience of job loss may influence the initiation or efficiency of self-regulatory job search through changes in attitudes towards work and evaluations of one’s worth.

Additionally, neuroticism was positively related to job search effort but negatively related to job search intensity. To be precise, people higher in neuroticism tended to report greater subjective job search effort but fewer job search behaviors. This happens because individuals higher in neuroticism are more prone to experience difficulty in managing anxiety and other disruptive emotions during job search.

The findings also suggest that how individuals present themselves during the employee selection process may be as important to employment success as the job search. Therefore, some of the trait variables related to the effectiveness of self-regulated search behavior, such as conscientiousness and a strong internal locus of control, may be the same characteristics that employers look for when evaluating applicants. Hence, people that only take care of increasing their job search without taking care of how they “come across” in the interactions with future employers would be more likely to experience frustration and discouragement because of their repeated failure to advance the initial employment interview.

article author(s)

article keywords