Study pinpoints traits related to propensity to job search

by Dennis Brown

Any boss is happy to have employees who are intelligent, easygoing and creative. Those are the individuals who likely are going to work at the highest and most efficient levels.p. But they’re also likely to have some job-related wanderlust.p. A new study coauthored by Robert D. Bretz from the University of Notre Dame finds that employed business managers who are smart, agreeable and imaginative ? as well as those who are neurotic ? are most inclined to search for new jobs.p. In “Personality and Cognitive Ability as Predictors of Job Search Among Employed Managers,” published in the journal Personnel Psychology, Bretz and three colleagues examined how the enduring individual characteristics of intelligence and personality ? as contrasted to such variables as salary, tenure or job satisfaction ? affect a person’s propensity to search for a job.p. They found that of five major personality traits ? conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness to experience ? the latter three, along with cognitive ability, are exhibited by people most likely to engage in job search activities. They also reported that the relationship between extroversion and the tendency to search for a new job becomes significant and positive when the situational factor of job satisfaction comes into play.p. Bretz said the findings do not mean that employees who search for new jobs are more likely to leave. Some do, of course, but many others job search in order to establish contacts in their field, determine their own market value so as to leverage their current employer, or to simply reassure themselves that their current job is attractive.p. The study builds upon previous research by Bretz, John W. Boudreau from Cornell University and Timothy A. Judge from the University of Iowa. They were joined by Wendy R. Boswell from Texas A&M University on the latest study.p. A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1997, Bretz chairs the Department of Management in the University’s Mendoza College of Business and this year was appointed the Giovanini Professor in Management.p. Bretz specializes in human resource management and the study of job applicant decision processes. He focuses on staffing and selection issues such as how the fit between an individual and organization affects career success, the effectiveness of alternative training philosophies, and the links between individual and organizational effectiveness.p. Bretz was cited last year as one of the 10 most published authors of the 1990s in the two leading journals for the field of industrial and organizational psychology. He is a member of the Academy of Management and a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.p. A graduate of Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., Bretz earned his master’s of business administration degree and his doctoral degree from the University of Kansas. He previously taught and conducted research at the University of Kansas, the University of Iowa, and Cornell University.

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