Different Starting Lines, Different Finish Times: The Role of Social Class in the Job Search Process

Philip S. DeOrtentiis, Chad H.Van Iddekinge, Connie R. Wanberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Although social class is an important construct throughout the social sciences, it has received only minimal attention in the industrial–organizational psychology, organizational behavior, and human resource management literatures. As a result, little is known regarding the potential role of social class in the work and career context. The present study examines the role of social class during the job search process. We integrate self-regulation and social class perspectives to hypothesize ways social class may influence job search antecedents, behaviors, and outcomes. Analysis of longitudinal data from new job entrants (N = 516) indicated that job seekers from lower social classes possess lower job search self-efficacy, lower perceived social support, and higher perceived financial hardship compared with those from higher social classes. Further, results suggest that through the mechanism of lower self-efficacy, lower social class job seekers display lower job search intensity. Finally, one indicator of social class—parental income—was positively related to job acceptance rate, a hazard outcome that reflected whether and how quickly participants accepted a job. In contrast, subjective social class was negatively related to job acceptance rate. Overall, the present findings suggest that social class plays a multifaceted role in the job search process and, thus, warrants more attention within this and other areas of organizational research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-457
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
Early online dateMay 17 2021
StatePublished - May 17 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association


  • Employment
  • Job search
  • Self-regulation
  • Social class
  • Socioeconomic status

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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