|Abstract (english)|| |
Introduction: The transition from university to work is an important step in career development. Given the changing nature of today's and future job market (Hirschi, 2018), great emphasis is placed on the role of personal resources when dealing with career transitions and the job-search process. One of the personal resources that may contribute to a more successful transition from university to the world of work is career adaptability. It is a psychosocial construct that denotes an individual’s ability to cope with current or future tasks, transitions, or career traumas (Savickas, 2013; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). In this study, we aimed to investigate whether career adaptability leads to employment and higher perceived employability one year after graduation and if these relationships are mediated by job-search self-efficacy and career engagement. Career adaptability is the core concept of the career construction theory and the career construction model of adaptation (CCMA; Savickas, 2002, 2005, 2013). CCMA postulates that individuals with enhanced readiness (adaptivity) and resources (adaptability) engage in behaviours (adapting) that result in successful career outcomes (adaptation), such as employment. Career adaptability comprises resources that represent self-regulation strengths or capacities to deal with career challenges: concern, control, curiosity, and confidence (Savickas, 2013). It has been shown that these resources remain mostly stable over time (Monteiro et al., 2019), although they can be elevated during unemployment and career transitions (e.g., Johnston, 2018). One of the main tasks in the transition from university to work is finding an adequate job. Therefore, employment and perceived employability are important adaptation results. Having a job enables people to earn a living, but also provides other functions (e.g., time structure and social contacts) which are important for well-being. Perceived employability refers to the individual’s perception of his or her possibilities of obtaining and maintaining employment (Vanhercke et al., 2014). It is important because it can guide the way a person manages their career (Baluku et al., 2021; De Cuyper et al., 2015). Based on the CCMA model and previous empirical findings, career adaptability should have a positive effect on employment and perceived employability. Nevertheless, these effects could also be mediated through behaviours and beliefs concerning the job search. Job-search self-efficacy refers to confidence in performing general and specific job-search tasks (Ellis & Taylor, 1983). It has an important role in the job-search process because people with high job-search self-efficacy set higher goals and pursue them even when faced with obstacles. Career engagement is a degree of engagement in self-directed career management behaviours (Hirschi et al., 2014). More engaged individuals plan more, explore themselves and their surroundings, and can make career-related decisions and prepare for important career transitions. We hypothesized that career adaptability will have direct and indirect longitudinal effects via job-search self-efficacy and career engagement, on both job-search success and perceived employability. Furthermore, we assumed that objective employability will be an important moderator for this process. Given that graduates who hold a degree in majors that are objectively more employable have more possibilities on the job market, their career adaptability will be less important for job-search success and perceived employability, but also for jobsearch self-efficacy and career engagement. Method: A three-wave longitudinal study was conducted online with a time interval of six months. The first wave was in September and November 2019 (T1), the second wave in April and May 2020 (T2), and the third wave was completed in September and November 2020 (T3). Participants were recruited in several ways. Before the research started, leaflets with research information were sent to the Croatian Employment Service offices in five cities, including the capital. The counsellors distributed the leaflets to the graduates during their appointments. Graduates could apply for the research by leaving their e-mail using the link provided on the leaflet in form of a QR code. Before the start of the research, all major universities in Croatia were contacted. Those that decided to participate sent the Google forms link to their graduates’ e-mail addresses. They also advertised the research on the web pages and/or the university’s Facebook page. Several university careers centres across Croatia also advertised the research. Furthermore, participants were recruited over Facebook (e.g., employment-related Facebook groups, student Facebook groups) or through personal contacts (e.g., university students, higher education lecturers). Finally, after completing the questionnaire, all participants were asked to forward the research link to other graduate students. Participants completed questionnaires on career adaptability, career engagement, jobsearch self-efficacy, perceived employability, and job-search success at each time point. Also, given that the study was conducted during the pandemic of coronavirus, in T2 and T3 they also completed the questionnaires on the financial and psychological impacts of coronavirus, which were used as control variables. The participants were informed that they can withdraw from the study at any time. To motivate participants, there was a prize pool at each time point. There were 688 participants in T1, 326 participants in T2, and 292 participants in T3. There were 243 participants who undertook the research in all three waves (T1, T2, and T3). Most participants were women (76.3%). The average age was 25.07 years (SD = 2.64). The participants reported their perceived financial status (1- significantly below average, 5-significantly above average), with an average of M = 3.10 (SD = 0.76). Most respondents had been full-time students (94%) during their master studies, and on average, they participated in the research 2.05 months (SD = 1.24) after study completion. Results: To address the study hypotheses, we conducted a cross-lagged panel model (CLPM). The results showed that career adaptability did not have longitudinal effects on job-search success and perceived employability. Also, career adaptability did not have a longitudinal effect on job-search self-efficacy and career engagement. Results showed that graduates had higher career adaptability in T2 due to more pronounced interview performance self-efficacy in T1, and higher career adaptability in T3 due to perceived employability in T1. Graduates who had more job-search success in T1 had higher interview performance self-efficacy in T2. Also, perceived employability in T2 lead to higher job-search self-efficacy, interview performance self-efficacy, and career engagement in T3. Furthermore, a multigroup analysis was conducted to examine the possible moderator role of objective employability. Within graduates with higher objective employability, both jobsearch self-efficacy and interview performance self-efficacy in T1 had a direct effect on career adaptability in T2. However, job-search self-efficacy was a suppressor variable, due to the high correlation with interview performance self-efficacy, and insignificant bidirectional correlation with career adaptability. Graduates who showed more career engagement in T2 developed higher career adaptability in T3, while those with higher perceived employability in T2 engaged in more career-related behaviours in T3. In the group of graduates with low and moderate objective employability, higher perceptions of their employability in T1 led to enhanced interview performance self-efficacy in T2, while higher perceptions of their employability in T2 improved job-search self-efficacy and interview performance self-efficacy in T3. Finally, the results showed that career adaptability had low stability during a 1-year period, on the whole sample, and both within graduates with high and moderate and low objective employability. The exception is the moderate stability of career adaptability between T2 and T3 in the group of graduates with moderate and low objective employability. Conclusion: This research aimed to contribute to the growing literature on career adaptability. However, the results were not in line with the career construction model of adaptation. That is, career adaptability did not lead to adapting (job-search self-efficacy and career engagement) or to adaptation results (job-search success and perceived employability) in the transitions of graduates from university to work. Instead, it has been shown that perceived employability is an important factor for predicting job-search self-efficacy and interview performance selfefficacy of graduates with moderate and low objective employability, career engagement of graduates with high objective employability, and career adaptability, which was detected only in the whole sample of graduates. Also, this research showed that we can enhance the career adaptability of graduates with high objective employability by promoting their interview performance self-efficacy and career engagement. Finally, the positive effects of job-search success on interview performance self-efficacy highlight the importance of self-regulation in the job-search process. These results should be evaluated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began before the second wave of the research. Therefore, it should be generalized with caution about other graduates in different circumstances. Low stability of career adaptability during a single year calls for more longitudinal research that will explain ways career adaptability changes, especially in new and unplanned contexts.