Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study on job search behavior shows certain personality traits pay off

19.09.2002


Ruth Kanfer is completing a two-year study on job-search behavior in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Labor.


A new study confirms what some job seekers may suspect: The more effort people put into a job search, the more likely they are to find employment even in difficult economic times.

The Georgia Institute of Technology study also reveals how certain personality traits affect job-search behavior. For example, people tend to look harder for jobs and consequently have more success if they are:

  • Optimistic and view the job loss as an opportunity to improve their position.
  • Higher in self-esteem and self-efficacy; they’re confident in their ability to search for a job.
  • Extraverted.

  • Conscientious, in the sense that they are more organized and concerned with follow-up.

"That doesn’t mean that introverts or less conscientious individuals have poor re-employment prospects," said study director Ruth Kanfer, a Georgia Tech psychology professor. "But those personality traits are less conducive to the path that they’re up against. In contrast, some people are naturally outgoing or predisposed to set goals and follow through."

Kanfer is completing a two-year study on job-search behavior in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Labor. Although researchers are still crunching numbers, preliminary findings show a positive relationship between active job-search behavior and re-employment success – even in a time of recession.

"That may seem intuitive, but it’s something people forget -- especially if the economy is bad," Kanfer said. "When jobs are scarce, people often assume that there’s no point in looking."

Most job-search studies examine human capital factors, such as education and age, when predicting job-search success. But Kanfer’s focus on behavior provides practical, new information, she said.

The study results will help professionals in the human-resources industry respond to the different needs that job seekers have.

"A formulaic approach to outplacement doesn’t work," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a Chicago-based consulting firm that specializes in outplacement. "The job search is a process where there is constant rejection."

And not everyone has the emotional resiliency to bounce back from those rejections, Challenger said. Yet companies too often focus on delivering administrative services, such as daycare or places where job seekers can make phone calls, rather than one-on-one counseling support, he added.

The idea is to enhance job search behavior. If outplacement counselors can identify individuals who aren’t strong in the personality traits conducive to a job search, they can be more proactive with training and counseling, Kanfer explained.

One surprising result of the Georgia Tech study: Many laid-off workers reported that a change in their routine positively affected their ability to find work.

"There’s been an implicit notion that people should try to maintain the status quo after losing a job," Kanfer said, "but we’re finding that people who change their daily routine – for example, engaging in more exercise or going to more church activities – were more successful in finding re-employment."

That makes sense, she added, because exercise or connecting to social support groups can help buffer the stress that comes from losing a job.

Although the study of 100 workers – primarily high school graduates averaging 40 years in age – is smaller than Kanfer hoped for, it provides a pool of rich information on the processes and activities involved in a job search, she said.

The study also provides a useful complement to studies of job search behaviors that have focused on new entrants to the workforce -- mostly college graduates -- who are in a more structured search environment, Kanfer added.

"For job seekers, a job search is self-managed and self motivated -- no one is offering them opportunity," she noted.

Kanfer’s study differs from previous research in two other ways, as well:

Greater ethnic mix. About half of the participants were African Americans.
Organizational diversity. Participants came from a variety of different companies.
Often job-search studies look at downsizing within a single organization, which can skew results. In contrast, Kanfer’s study provides a look at job-search behaviors across different occupations and industries.

Almost half of the participants in this study had been laid off at least once in the previous five years. "That really speaks to how the work world has changed – that job loss is no longer an infrequent event," Kanfer said.

On the brighter side, the study shows that job loss doesn’t necessarily mean settling for less. Among the study participants, several reported they were happier in new situations than the ones they had left.

The study also points to areas that warrant more research, such as the impact of age on job-search behavior. Older people may limit their options because they feel they don’t have the right skills. "And that’s a vicious cycle because the more you look, the more likely you are to find employment," Kanfer said.

Granted, in a poor economy, chances of finding a job are lower, but it’s still an active approach that can win results.

"You can’t make employment happen," Kanfer stressed. "But you help control what happens by managing your assets, marshalling your skills and getting yourself out there."

Jane Sanders | EurekAlert!

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>