Job search stress, gender, and conscientiousness

I’ve been picking up some interesting findings in my survey about job search and social media use. One group of findings in particular jumped out at me yesterday – those associated with job search stress.

As part of the questionnaire, I asked respondents how stressful they found looking for a job. The results were pretty conclusive:

  • 65.2% agreed that it was stressful
  • 14.5% disagreed that is was stressful.


Breaking down these figures, it is clear that the pressure of job search has a similar impact on every demographic subgroup. Indeed, for most demographics, the differences between the variables are negligible. However, one of the findings was eye-catching. With regards to gender and job search:

  • 56.3% of males agreed that it was stressful; whilst,
  • 70.1% of females agreed that is was stressful.

The difference between males and females was statistically significant. Perhaps one of the reasons this finding leapt out at me was that for the bulk of the analysis, gender made little difference one way or the other.

This made me trawl back through my findings to find another area where gender had had a significant impact. An example I found was in respect of job search effort: females (64.2%) were more likely than males (56.5%) to agree that they put effort into job search. Indeed, job search effort transpired to be one of the few dependent variables which significantly impacted job search stress levels:

  • 57.7% of those who did not apply effort agreed that it was stressful; whilst
  • 71.6% of those who did apply job search effort agreed that it was stressful.

In summation, there is a strong association between gender, job search effort, and job search stress*. As an amateur (non) psychologist, these results seem to suggest that females are more conscientious than males when it comes to seeking employment. A cursory Google Scholar search indicates that these findings have some precedent in other contexts.

The obvious question, then, is what impact is this having on job search outcomes**? This is something I will hopefully address in the thesis.

*Males who apply effort to job search (62.5%) are also more likely than those who do not (54.0%) to find job search stressful. Therefore, level of job search effort – independently of gender – also appears to have a significant impact on stress.

** The other obvious question is, what can be done to ameliorate job search stress beyond just treating its symptoms? Is it a wider societal or cultural concern, that people become so stressed out about finding work? Especially young people being under so much pressure to find a foothold in the labour market. However, this could be a whole new PhD project.


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