Don’t Stress About the Job Search…Oh Wait, Maybe You Should!

Topic(s): staffing, stress

Topic: Staffing, Stress
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment
Article: The joint role of locus of control and perceived financial need in job search.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

Not surprisingly, one of the most important predictors of finding employment is the intensity with which one searches for a job (Remember mom saying, “Get off the couch and go look for a job!”?).  In response to this finding, organizational researchers are investigating predictors of job-search intensity and one of these predictors is job search locus of control. Job search locus of control refers to the degree of control an individual thinks he/she has over his/her job search behaviors and outcomes.

For example, an individual with an internal locus of control (internals) feels that he/she is in control of his/her own behavior and subsequent outcomes (If I really want that job, then its all up to me!). Externals, on the other hand, attribute outcomes to external factors (I really need a job, let me rub my lucky rabbit foot!).

So the question is, who tends to put forth more effort in finding a job: Externals or internals? Interested in adding clarity to this issue, researchers van Hooft and Crossley (2008) conducted two independent studies in two countries (U.S. and The Netherlands) to further investigate the role of locus of control in the job search process.  However, because past findings on job search locus of control have been ambiguous, the authors investigated two additional factors thought to also influence job search intensity: stress and perceived financial need.

Van Hooft and Crossley (2008) found that the relationship between job searchlocus of control and the intensity with which one searches for a job depends on financial need.  In other words, when financial need is high, externals put forth more effort than internals.  But for individuals whose financial need was low (living on easy street), both externals and internals searched for jobs with equal intensity. Moreover, these findings held for both studies in two countries with different socioeconomic and employment systems.

But most interesting of all, van Hooft and Crossley’s findings suggest that stress can play a positive role in the job search process (But wait, stress is bad.,right?). Although stress is generally thought to be ‘bad’, even in the job search process, their findings suggest that for externals with high financial need, increased stress may be the reason that they increase their job search intensity (which of course leads to an increased chance of finding employment).

So I put it to you: How can these findings be useful for individuals searching for jobs? How are these findings useful for organizations? And how can organizations capitalize on these findings when recruiting applicants?

Van Hooft, E. A. J., & Crossley, C. D. (2008). The joint role of locus of control and perceived financial need in job search. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 16(3), 258-271.