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Is Social Class Making Your Job Search Haphazard?

Social class may impact how haphazard job search is.
Social class can make haphazard job searches more likely. Learn what a haphazard job search is and how you can avoid engaging in one.

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We have talked before about the importance of social class for predicting job search outcomes. In this post, we discuss one of the primary negative outcomes associated with being from a lower social class – using a more haphazard strategy during job search. But, what does it mean to use a haphazard strategy? Learn more in this post to see if you’re using one and, if so, how to improve.

What Causes a Haphazard Job Search?

People from higher social classes might be confused by others’ haphazard job searches. But, this is because those from higher social classes tend to have higher social capital. Those with higher social capital approach their job searches differently. This is because they have different resources to leverage as they search for a role.

Social capital has to do with who you know. Those with high social capital have valuable connections that help to facilitate their job search. Individuals with higher social capital know people with valuable information about various careers and industries. For example, they might know people who work in the industry or job they want to attain. They also know people who can help them to understand what jobs to apply for and how to go about doing so. Finally, they have contacts who have high status jobs.

Compared to those from lower class status backgrounds, individuals who have higher amounts of social capital fare better in the job search process get ahead more easily. Partially, this is because those with higher social capital are able to approach their job search more strategically.

If you're taking a road to your job search that is "off the beaten path", you might have a haphazard approach.
If you’re taking a road to your job search that is “off the beaten path”, you might have a haphazard approach.

What is a Haphazard Job Search?

A haphazard job search is characterized by a lack of a strategic plan for finding a job. Haphazard searches are more random. People apply for jobs that they might not be qualified for, or for which they don’t know how decisions are being made. Haphazard searches are not as predictable. Applicants may be applying for many jobs, but they may not fit with the roles they are applying for.

In a more strategic job search, candidates have a clear sense of the type of job they fit with. They also have a strong sense of the type of role they want to land. So, their search is more targeted. As mentioned before, because they have higher social capital, they may know people in the role who can give them advice. This also means that they are more likely to apply for roles in which they have pre-existing connections. These connections can provide useful information to candidates, so that they can best position themselves for the role.

Social class may cause you to take more detours in your job search. In other words, your job search is more haphazard
Social class may cause you to take more detours in your job search. In other words, your job search is more haphazard.

What Can Be Done to Address This?

Interestingly, psychological capital can serve as a substitute for social capital. Psychological capital is a mixture of optimism, self-efficacy, hope, and resilience. We offer a course on psychological capital, if this peaks your interest. When you grow your psychological capital, you expect positive things and believe you have what it takes to achieve them. You continue finding pathways toward your goals, even in the face of challenges. Plus, when you fail, you are better able to bounce back.

When you lack social capital, you can make up for it by planning effectively and moving forward in the face of struggles. But, of course, organizations should change at the root in order to ensure that job search processes are fair for all job seekers. In the absence of these structural changes, growing greater psychological capital may be one way that individuals can level the playing field. The good news is that individuals can grow their psychological capital – it isn’t a fixed set of traits. So, if you’re from a lower social class and have low social capital, all is not lost! Psychological capital may provide an alternate route to achieving your goals.

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