To read this content please select one of the options below:

The toll of perceived injustice on job search self-efficacy and behavior

Simon Taggar (School of Business & Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada)
Lisa K. J. Kuron (School of Business & Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 13 June 2016




Individuals normally make fairness judgements when experiencing negative outcomes on an important task, such as finding employment. Fairness is an affect-laden subjective experience. Perceptions of injustice can cause resource depletion in unemployed job seekers, potentially leading to reduced self-regulation. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of: first, justice perceptions during a job search and their impact on job search self-efficacy (JSSE); second, the mediating role of JSSE between justice perceptions and job search strategies; and third, associations between job search strategies and quantity and quality of job search behavior.


Unemployed individuals (n=254) who were actively searching for a job reported on their past job search experiences with respect to justice, completed measures of JSSE, and reported recent job search behavior.


Results reveal the potentially harmful impact of perceived injustice on job search strategies and the mediating role of JSSE, a self-regulatory construct and an important resource when looking for a job. Specifically, perceived injustice is negatively associated with JSSE. Reduced JSSE is associated with a haphazard job search strategy and less likelihood of exploratory and focussed strategies. A haphazard job search strategy is associated with making fewer job applications and poor decision making. Conversely, perceived justice is associated with higher JSSE and exploratory and focussed job search strategies. These two strategies are generally associated with higher quality job search behavior.

Research limitations/implications

There are two major limitations. First, while grounded in social-cognitive theory of self-regulation and conservation of resources (COR) theory, a cross-sectional research design limits determination of causality in the model of JSSE as a central social-cognitive mechanism explaining how justice impacts job search strategies. Second, some results may be conservative because social desirability may have restricted the range of negative responses.

Practical implications

This study provides insights to individuals who are supporting job seekers (e.g. career counselors, coaches, employers, and social networks). Specifically, interventions aimed at reducing perceptions of injustice, increasing JSSE, and improving job search strategies and behavior may ameliorate the damaging impact of perceived injustice.


This study is the first to examine perceived justice in the job search process using social-cognitive theory of self-regulation and COR theory. Moreover, we provide further validation to a relatively new and under-researched job search strategy typology by linking the strategies to the quantity and quality of job search behaviors.



Taggar, S. and Kuron, L.K.J. (2016), "The toll of perceived injustice on job search self-efficacy and behavior", Career Development International, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 279-298.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles