New CERIC-funded research shows that deploying specific hope-centred career interventions can positively influence the actions of unemployed adult jobseekers with low hope and high barriers. In the study, 70% of clients reported that after participating in the interventions they were able to develop new perspectives on job search, craft better career plans, and be more confident in their decision-making.

Members of the Hope-Centred Career Interventions research team included Dr Norman Amundson (University of British Columbia), Tannis Goddard (MixtMode/Training Innovations), Dr Spencer Niles (The College of William and Mary), and Dr Hyung Joon Yoon (The George Washington University). The project is a follow-up to earlier CERIC-supported research, which was focused on university students and identified that higher levels of hope are linked to higher GPAs and a clearer career identity among post-secondary students.

Recognizing that hope has an impact on outlook, resilience and actions, the main goal of this second project was to better understand how hope could be increased for unemployed adults accessing publicly-funded employment services. Another goal was to include practitioners in the design and testing of the interventions and to equip them with new and relevant tools, making the time they spend with clients more effective.

This project set out to create tangible interventions, targeted to increasing hope competencies for jobseeking adults. The study tested hope-based interventions delivered both face-to-face and by a practitioner-led process in an online counselling platform. The aim was that through using a constructivist active-engagement approach, with an intentional focus of creating a mattering-climate, that short, early interventions could increase the hopefulness of jobseekers and help them be in a greater place of readiness for moving forward.

Five hope-centred career interventions were identified and developed during this study for practical use in public employment centres with unemployed individuals:

  • Career Flow
  • Circle of Strength
  • Walking the Problem
  • Two or Three Chairs
  • Staying Afloat

Results of the study indicate that among the 52 jobseekers who took part in the hope-centred career interventions, there was an increased sense of hopefulness and that the increased hopefulness helped them develop new perspectives for action. Taking both face-to-face and online delivery methods into consideration, there were statistically significant improvements in all measures of hope.

The career practitioners involved in the study also indicated that the interventions helped them engage more quickly and deeply with their clients and that they were able to have more meaningful conversations about the clients’ career concerns and the pressures in their life that impacted their sense of hopefulness.

An unintended outcome of the research was that the researchers and practitioners involved saw experiences unfolding that challenged pre-existing beliefs about the efficacy and characteristics of online counselling. The researchers found that the project provided a rich opportunity for discourse between professionals about the challenges and opportunities of integrating facilitated online services into the field.

The project finding have broad applicability. In Canada, all provinces provide services to support the career development and job search needs of their residents. The need to provide timely, cost-effective and impactful interventions exists across service regions, often with challenging geographic realities. This research has direct relevance for the career development work being done throughout Canada in public employment centres in relation to early intervention engagement strategies that can propel a client more quickly to address their return-to-work needs. Further, the integration of online delivery may shed insights as provinces consider effective strategies to reach their citizens.

Read the full details in the project final report (pdf).