Marie-Hélène Budworth

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, specializing in learning, development & motivation.

Marie-Hélène Budworth

Stagnating during a job search?

January 8th, 2019 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I am working on a submisison to one of the largest conferences in the management area, the Academy of Management, to be held in Boston in August.  In this research, my colleagues Jennifer Harrison and Mike Halinski and I followed a sample of 142 people who were actively job seeking over a three-week period.  We looked at a group of job search behaviours in order to determine factors that predicted success in acquiring a job.

The literature has long differentiated between preparatory and active job search.  In the preparatory phase, people engage in activities that could broadly be defined as exploratory.  For example, they might ask relatives and friends whether they know of any job leads.  In the active phase, the individual is directly invovled in activities that could result in being hired.  For example, they might participate in a job interview.  While the literature has distinguished between these phases, there is less written about how to successfully transition between them.

In our work, we found that it is possible to stagnate in the preparatory phase.  Planning for too long can trap you there.  It is important to move beyond the preparatory stage to the active phase because it is only these activities that will ultimately get you a job.  We also found that goal setting intention was important for moving from the active to the preparatory stage, and job search intensity was important for moving from preparatory to active job search.  In other words, goal setting, while important for helping you set your sites appropriately, can get you stuck in planning.  At the same time, the more time you spend on job search overall, will facilitate your transition from preparatory activities to active job search.

So the bottom line is, if you are engaged in a job search, ensure that you set your sites and then move efficiently into the active phase where you are out meeting people, submitting applications, and getting closer to employers.  We also reiterate the age old advice that if you are job searching, it should be your full-time job.  The more time you spend job search, the more likely you are to transition easily into the active job search phase where it is possible to ultimately find employment.

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