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Maintaining Positivity, Motivation Can Help Job Search Process, MU Researcher Finds

May 28th, 2013

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu

By Jerett Rion

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Currently, many recent college graduates still face the daunting task of searching for a job. While the job search process can be long and exhausting, a University of Missouri researcher has found that maintaining positivity and staying motivated can lead to a more successful job search.

“The search for a job can be stressful time in anyone’s life, especially first-time college graduates,” said Daniel Turban, professor of management at the MU Trulaske College of Business. “Job searching isn’t rewarding until the end of the search when a job is actually secure.”

Turban’s study focused on college seniors who were currently in the job search process and measured their positive and negative affectivity during the search. Positive and negative affectivity are individual characteristics that influence how an individual sees or perceives the world. Turban said that affectivity is believed to influence perceptions and thoughts about the job search as well.

“Negative and positive affectivity aren’t polar opposites and it is possible for people to show signs of both,” Turban said. “People with positive affectivity may have more energy, be more optimistic and recover quicker from stressful events. These traits cause them to be more proactive in the job search because they can recover faster from rejection.”

Turban suggests that it is important to stay positive and maintain motivation throughout the entire job search.

“The best thing a person can do during the job search is to have a plan and enact that plan,” Turban said. “People who have a plan in place and who engage in higher intensity searches and maintain motivation will have the best success in the job search. Even when they get frustrated, because they have a plan in place, they are able to recover more quickly than those who do not.”

Turban also says that it is important to note that affectivity and personality are not the same things. A person may be able to change their affectivity for a short period of time during a job search and maintain motivation, but their personality can revert back to other traits after the search is over.

“Unlike affectivity, personality can take much longer to change and requires much more work than changing your affectivity during a job search,” Turban said.

The study “Be Happy, Don’t Wait: The Role of Trait Affect in Job Search” was published in Personnel Psychology.

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