Personal, Social & Cultural Influences on Job Search & Selection

  By Dr. Frank Burtnett  |    Tuesday July 13, 2016

Category: Certification, Education, Expert Advice, Recruiting

Every candidate that comes before a search and staffing professional in the hopes of identifying a new position is influenced by a variety of personal, social and cultural influences. The extent to which those influences are addressed in the job search process will contribute significantly to the transition experience and to that individual’s eventual satisfaction and success.

The evolving diversity of the American workforce has made any understanding of the needs of candidates more multifaceted than it has ever been. Stated simply---people are different and helping them with job change entails identifying those differences, understand their origins and facilitating them to fullest extent possible. A measure of pulse-taking is necessary to ascertain how one candidate differs from another, but mastery of that analysis will pay huge dividends. Group assessment is complicated by the mix of varying ages in the workforce and the generational individualities and behaviors they represent, but it too is worthy of scrutiny.

Importance of Understanding Individual Differences

Understanding the mix of traits, influences, values and preferences of each individual and how these factors may dictate how that person will navigate the job exploration, decision-making and transition processes is an important consideration for the search and staffing professional. Less energy will be spent and time will be more efficiently used if these factors are woven into the employment transition process. Bottom line---the unique needs of the individual candidate will be served. 

Every attempt should be made to learn the extent to which each of the following is important to and going to influence the choices and eventual actions of the candidate:

Personal traits and characteristics - Every individual has a set of emotional characteristics and ways of behaving---their personality. These are the traits that distinguish them from others. They also represent qualities that fit with some workforce positions and conflict with others. What are those traits and characteristics? What influence will they have on how the candidate will be viewed by the employer?

Individual traits can be identified by using one of the more popular personality tests (i.e., Myers- Briggs, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, etc.) and there may be time when candidates should be referred to skilled counselors and psychologists for such an assessment. EMInfo readers can also examine some of the less formal personality survey instruments that can be found on the Internet. Most important, however, is to stress that life decisions should never be made based on the findings of a single test. Test information simply contributes one piece of a much larger picture or it validates personal information collected from a variety of sources. 

Family, social and cultural influences - Often the behaviors and reactions of candidates---even their thoughts---are influenced by their family, friends and even larger groups. On occasion this formative persuasion, peer pressure and social force will guide the behaviors of the individuals, especially the younger and more impressionable candidate. Will these influences affect the positions they will consider or the employers for whom they will want to work? 

Work values and attitudes - As people move about the workplace, their life and career experiences influence how they view their jobs and eventually their career. Those values are manifested in how one approaches and performs their work. Matters like the inclination to become engaged, openness to learning new things, punctuality and loyalty to the employer are examples of these values and attitudes. They are also personal postures that employers will seek to discover during the hiring process.

Lifestyle preferences - Over time individuals engage in an ordering of alternatives about their jobs and careers and eventually this list of preferences can influence the decisions one makes about their future. One candidate may prefer the “hustle and bustle” of urban living while another will opt for the slower pace offered in alternative community environments. Some candidates will welcome the opportunity to travel in their work and others will opt for staying close to home. Work situations are not always accommodating of lifestyle preferences, but that will not prevent candidates from prioritizing options based on them. 

Satisfaction as an End-Goal

Psychological and mindset satisfaction needs to be considered as an end-goal for the job search and selection process. Consideration of the traits, influences, values and preferences the candidate brings to the job selection or change process will result in a more appropriate “fit” and eventually greater job success and satisfaction---both desirable ends for the candidate and the client.



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