More to job hunting than meets the eye

Marna de Bruyn

Marna de Bruyn

Looking for work says more about you than you think, according to research at the University of Brighton.

The study revealed how the process is full of challenges related to the job seeker’s identity and to navigating institutions.

Marna de Bruyn’s research, for her MSc Occupational Therapy degree, has been published in the Journal of Occupational Science. Marna, from South Africa, already a qualified occupational therapist, was supported during her studies with a UK Government Chevening Scholarship. Her paper was co-written by her university supervisor Dr Josh Cameron, Principal Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences.

The study explored the meaning of job-seeking as a human experience and occupation, and involved in-depth interviews with a job seeker at various stages of her search.

The 55-year old volunteer had been job-seeking for three months following redundancy. Initially, she was searching for administrative employment but by the end of the research project she had abandoned job-seeking to pursue a year-long, full-time course in counselling with the future aim of completing a university degree.

The research showed how her understanding of herself and her identity influenced how she made sense of job seeking.

The authors said: “This process included encountering threats to her identity.”

There was also analysis of the supports and set-backs she experienced during job seeking, some of which were in her control and some were not.

The authors concluded that job-seeking is a “rich human occupation” influenced by internal and external factors related to the person, their occupations and environment. Future research, they said, could build on these insights by considering the efficacy of these internal and external supports and how job-seeking varies across different cultural and social contexts.

 

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