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Jan 21, 2015 04:57 PM EST

Job Seekers with 'Learning' Attitude Have More Success


Job seekers with attitudes focused on "learning" from the job-seeking process will have more success finding their dream jobs, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Missouri and Lehigh University found that job seekers who have a "learning goal orientation" (LGO) or a natural disposition to learn from every situation in life, tend to be more successful in achieving their career goals.

"Attitude means a lot," researcher Daniel Turban said in a statement. "We also found that this disposition is not just influenced by genetics; it can be acquired."

For the study, researchers collected data from 120 college seniors who were currently in the job-search process. The participants were surveyed at different points during the job-seeking process.

They found that people who had a strong LGO reacted to failures by putting more intensity into the search process compared to job seekers who had a low LGO. Additionally, when the process was going well, individuals with a high LGO maintained or slightly increased their intensity, while those who had a low LGO decreased their intensity.

"It's not that people with a high LGO have less stress, but they deal with the stress better than others," Turban explained. "With the right amount of stress, individuals with a high LGO increased their intensity, and as a result, were more successful with reaching their goals. We always think stress is bad, but that's not the case. Feeling a moderate amount of stress can be very motivating."

Researchers said that it's not just about genetics. People with a low LGO can learn techniques or behaviors to help them improve their LGO so they handle stress and failures better.

"Job seekers can be trained to improve their LGO," Serge da Motta Veiga, lead author on the study, said in a statement. "Such training could help them realize that the stress and failure they experience while searching for a job is not a bad thing, but instead represents an opportunity to learn from the process and determine how they can be successful at it."

Researchers said it is best when job seekers spend time reflecting on how they are doing. The more intentional job seekers are about learning from the process, the more successful they are likely to be in their job searches.

The findings are detailed in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

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