I just completed the first-ever online version of the Google-born Search Inside Yourself Program, hosted by the nonprofit Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI). The program is known for its training at the cross section of emotional intelligence, neuroscience, and mindfulness. As a new graduate, I can attest that it is simply a magnificent class for, well, pretty much anyone with a heartbeat. But, it’s what I learned about job search that most surprised me.
I’ve been studying the art and science of job search for 20+ years, and not once had I considered journaling to be a statistically proven way to increase your chances of landing a job. Turns out that expressive writing – writing about your trauma – can significantly reduce stress and improve your life functioning skills.
And help you land a job faster.
In a classic 1994 study, Spera, Buhrfeind and Pennebaker identified 63 individuals who had been laid off and assigned them each to one of three writing groups:
The findings are best summarized by Wise Interventions: “Asking recently unemployed middle-aged professionals to write about their ‘deepest thoughts and feelings’ about their job loss for 20-minutes/day over 5 consecutive days found a new full-time job more quickly over the next 8 months (53%) relative to individuals who wrote about non-traumatic topics (24%) or a nonrandomized group that did not write at all (14%).”
Pennebaker later surmised that suppressing negative experiences was stressful, and expressing them may have lifted the burden.
According to the capable people at SIYLI, journaling doesn’t have to be time consuming to be effective. Graduates of the SIY program are directed to follow up with a 28-day post program during which they journal daily about specific topic prompts, or topics of their choosing.
I’m on day 3 right now. And, while I can’t say that I love journaling (yet), after learning about the research on this topic, I’ll admit, I will give it a second try in the future; both for myself and for clients who find themselves struggling with job loss during this time of COVID-19.