Personality, Interpersonal Skills, and Students' Job Search Behaviors
McAbee, Samuel Thomas
Oswald, Frederick L.
Doctor of Philosophy
The ways that people identify and pursue employment opportunities represents an important aspect of organizational life, and students’ who are entering the job market for the first time have a vested interest in their own job search, as the activities they engage in during the search process have direct implications for their future career success. Building from socio-cognitive and self-regulatory theories of job search and career choice (e.g., Kanfer, Wanberg, & Kantrowitz, 2001; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994), the present dissertation examined the role of Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, proactive personality, and political skill for predicting students’ preparatory, active, and networking job search behaviors. These distal characteristics were posited to influence students’ job search behaviors through two mediating mechanisms: job search self-efficacy and job search clarity. In addition, recent research suggests that the same personality trait might simultaneously influence the job search process in both positive and negative ways depending on the mediating mechanisms examined (Zimmerman, Boswell, Shipp, Dunford, & Boudreau, 2012). The present dissertation offers an alternative, yet complimentary explanation for these opposing effects, where narrower traits within a broad personality domain might demonstrate distinctive relationships with various aspects of the job search process. To this end, the present dissertation examined the role of six meso-level aspects for the Big Five personality traits of Conscientiousness (i.e., Industriousness and Orderliness), Extraversion (i.e., Enthusiasm and Assertiveness), and Neuroticism (i.e., Volatility and Withdrawal; see DeYoung, Quilty, & Petersen, 2007) for predicting students’ job search behaviors. Findings for a sample of 280 graduating seniors revealed that Extraversion, proactive personality, and political skill positively predicted a variety of job search behaviors, whereas Conscientiousness was not related to these behaviors. Contrary to expectations, Neuroticism was positively related to students’ preparatory search behaviors. Job search self-efficacy and job search clarity did not meaningfully mediate the relations between students’ distal characteristics and their engagement in job search. A number of interesting relationships were identified for the meso-level personality aspects, where some aspects within a broad personality domain were meaningfully related to the job search process, while others were not. Considerations and directions for future research are discussed.
Personality Traits; Proactive Personality; Interpersonal Skills; Job Search Behaviors