Job hunting? Don’t get your hopes up; it could make your search longer

The long-term unemployed tend to over-estimate the chances of finding a job soon, which often prolongs their unemployment.

The long-term unemployed are overly-optimistic in their outlook that they’ll find a job soon, according to a November study from the National Bureau of Economic Research called Job Seekers Perceptions and Employment Prospects.

What’s more, even when they don’t find work and remain unemployed, those sunny outlooks do not adjust — which can keep job-seekers out of work longer.

“Individuals who overestimate their employment prospects will be overly selective and inefficiently prolong their unemployment spells,” the study reads.

While no one likes to hear that you should take the first decent job you can get to exit unemployment as fast as possible, perhaps that’s one lesson to be taken from this study.

The long-term unemployed generally have a too-rosy view of a job when they are finally hired, it was discovered.

For example, using a survey of unemployed workers in New Jersey, which surveyed a large sample of people receiving unemployment benefits in 2009-10, researchers found that out-of-work people reported a 26% probability that they’d find a job by the next month.

The actual probability of them finding a job in a month was 10%.

In fact, in the New Jersey group, people generally got 2% more optimistic they’d find a job with each month they were unemployed.

Perhaps it can be chalked up to a coping mechanism to combat job-search depression.

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.