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Predicting the self-regulated job search of mature-aged job seekers: The use of elective selection, loss-based selection, optimization, and compensation strategies
Journal of Vocational Behavior  (IF6.065),  Pub Date : 2021-05-24, DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2021.103591
Henriette Watermann, Ulrike Fasbender, Ute-Christine Klehe

Job search is a demanding and often demotivating process, challenging job-seekers' self-regulation. Particularly, mature-aged job seekers face lower reemployment chances – and may benefit from strategies known from the lifespan literature. The current study examined whether and when the use of aging strategies (elective selection, loss-based selection, optimization, and compensation; SOC strategies) can support mature-aged job seekers in their self-regulated job search process (goal establishment and goal pursuit). We collected data from 659 mature-aged job seekers in three countries (Germany, United Kingdom, and United States) at four different times over two months. Results of multi-level modeling showed no support for gain-oriented strategies, namely elective selection (prioritizing one instead of multiple goals) and optimization (investing every effort to reach one's goal). In contrast, loss-oriented strategies, namely loss-based selection (prioritizing or selecting a new goal after a setback) and compensation (using new or previously unused means in the face of obstacles), supported mature-aged job seekers' goal establishment and goal pursuit. Moreover, with increasing age, mature-aged job seekers reported lower reemployment efficacy (the confidence to find a new job), which moderated the relation between compensation with goal pursuit. Compensation was particularly helpful for mature-aged job seekers' goal pursuit in weeks in which they reported lower (vs. higher) reemployment efficacy. These findings highlight the importance of loss-oriented aging strategies as beneficial coping strategies. With regard to practice, the present study speaks to the benefits of SOC strategies and points to the development of interventions targeted toward mature-aged job seekers.