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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on job search behavior: An event transition perspective.
Journal of Applied Psychology  (IF7.429),  Pub Date : 2020-11-01, DOI: 10.1037/apl0000782
Lynn A. McFarland, Sydney Reeves, W. Benjamin Porr, Robert E. Ployhart

This study examines how job search behavior changed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the weeks following the event's onset, and if the physical contact required by different jobs moderated these trends. Based on event system theory, we argue that the onset of the pandemic created a strong event because it was highly novel, disruptive, and critical. We test this by examining 16 weeks of job applications for 14 organizations that differ in terms of whether the jobs require employees to work from home or face-to-face. We use Bliese, Adler, and Flynn's (2017) transition framework and discontinuous random coefficient growth curve modeling to test the pandemic's effect on job search behavior both during the event onset and then the weeks following the onset. Importantly, we include a 9-week preonset baseline period to provide more rigorous tests of change. Results show that the onset of the pandemic created an immediate increase in job search behavior (job applications), and this effect endured into the postonset period. Job type moderated these trends, such that the onset and postonset applications were substantially greater for work-from-home jobs (which followed a negatively accelerated curve) compared to face-to-face jobs. These findings advance the job search literature by introducing event system theory and transition frameworks to better understand how and why events uniquely influence job search behavior over time. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).