Boosting Job Seekers’ Esteem and Self-Efficacy

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Research by Shebib et al. (2019) demonstrated that delivering emotionally supportive messages via an online platform enhanced job seekers’ self-esteem and self-efficacy. The study involved college students and adults in the community who were facing job search challenges; participants in the study were asked to imagine receiving these messages from a friend, making the context relatable and realistic.

Message Examples


  1. “This isn’t your fault. You’ve been doing everything you can, and the right opportunity will come along.”
  2. “Remember, you have valuable skills and experience. The job market is tough, but you are tougher.”
  3. “It’s normal to feel down sometimes, but don’t forget all the progress you’ve made.”


  1. “One option is to go to an interview skills workshop to refine your techniques.”
  2. “Have you tried reaching out to your network for potential job leads?”
  3. “Updating your resume with recent accomplishments can make a big difference.”

Key Findings & Impact

Key Findings

  1. Emotion-Focused Messages: Were the most effective in improving job-search self-esteem and self-efficacy. Participants who received these messages reported feeling more confident and motivated.
  2. Problem-Focused Messages: Though less effective than emotion-focused, they still provided benefits over no support. These messages included practical advice on job-search strategies.
  3. Mixed Messages: Messages combining both emotion-focused and problem-focused content were also effective but did not show significant superiority based on the order of content presentation.

Measurable Impact 

  • Participants who received Emotion-Focused Messages showed significantly higher job-search state self-esteem (77.9% increase) and self-efficacy (62.3% increase) compared to those who received no supportive content.
  • Problem-Focused Messages: These also resulted in higher self-esteem (53.3% increase) and self-efficacy (62.3% increase) than the control group, although to a lesser extent than emotion-focused messages.
Study Outcomes
Study Outcomes - Shebib et al. (2019)

Using This In Practice

Non-profits and employment agencies can improve client confidence by integrating emotion-focused support into their communication strategies, posters, and coaching sessions. 

Training staff to deliver realistic and relevant supportive messages that are focused on job seeker emotions and wellbeing can foster better job search engagement and outcomes.

The Buoyancy platform job seeker app includes “Daily Boosts” – behaviourally informed micro-content and supportive messaging to enhance job-seeker engagement.


For more information, see Shebib et al. (2019) here.

Shebib, S. J., Holmstrom, A. J., Summers, M. E., Clare, D. D., Reynolds, R. M., Poland, T. L., Royer, H. R., Mazur, A. P., & Moore, S. (2020). Two Experiments Testing Order, Interaction, and Absolute Effects of Esteem Support Messages Directed Toward Job Seekers. Communication Research47(4), 541-571.

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