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Navigating the Black Hole: Explicating Layers of Job Search Context and Adaptational Responses


  • Thank you to insights and friendly reviews of this paper from Yongjun Choi, Irene De Pater, Erica Diehn, Loi Nguyen, and Tiffany Trzebiatowski. This work was supported, in part, by a visitors grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research awarded to the Department of Work and Organizational Psychology of the University of Amsterdam (Grant 040.11.149).

Connie Wanberg, University of Minnesota, Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies, 4-300 Carlson School of Management, 321-19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN, 55455;


Via a qualitative study, we introduce and elucidate 5 layers of context-related job search demands (omnibus, organizational, social, task, and personal) that are encountered by both employed and unemployed job seekers. We develop a process model to portray the mechanisms (managing mood and motivation, feedback/help seeking, and self-reflection/learning) through which these context-related demands are related to several important job search outcomes. We provide new insight into employed job seekers, showing that they report the job search as full of difficulties, obstacles, and challenges, and that some of these demands parallel those that unemployed job seekers face.