A new study reveals just how important staying motivated is for the unemployed looking for a new job. Just as important, according to the researchers, is managing negative thoughts.
The research shows that having a more positive, motivational outlook had a beneficial effect on looking for a job, especially at the outset of the search.
However, more important was the person’s ability to stay energized and keep negative emotions under control over time, according to Dr. Ruth Kanfer, a psychology professor at Georgia Tech. Kanfer co-authored the study, which appears in the current issue of The Academy of Management Journal.
The findings also indicate that effective self-management during a job search becomes more difficult over time.
“Searching for a job isn’t like learning a skill, where maintaining a positive attitude may be easier as you see improvement with effort,” she said.
“Beyond landing a job, you get almost no feedback on how you are doing or what you might do differently to improve your chance of finding a job. You submit resumes, make calls and get no feedback on your progress until you get a job.”
She adds that to successfully sustain motivation over time, people need to become increasingly proactive. For example, job seekers should seek increased social support and develop daily routines that provide positive feedback and support positive attitudes toward the search, she advises.
The study conducted weekly assessments on self-management, job search and mental health among 177 unemployed people seeking re-employment over the course of 20 weeks. Participants spent an average of 17 hours a week looking for a job at the beginning of the study and reported a gradual improvement in mental health.
By the fourth month, however, time spent on looking for a job had dropped to 14 hours a week and mental health started to show a slight decline.
Ultimately, 72 percent of job seekers found employment by 20 weeks, the researcher reports.
Source: Georgia Tech