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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

When Unexpected Job Leads Stress People Out

When Unexpected Job Leads Stress People Out
Credit: Kaljikovic/Shutterstock

You see a job that you think would interest a friend or family member, so you send it along to him or her, thinking you're doing a good deed. But it turns out that you may not be doing them a favor after all, new research shows.

While receiving unsolicited information about job opportunities and openings tends to relieve depression symptoms in people who are out of work or unhappy with their financial situation, the opposite is true for those who already have a full-time job, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University.

In fact, full-time workers who are comfortable with their financial status have increased feelings of depression after receiving unwanted job leads, the study's authors said.

The strength of the effect depends on how long a person has been in his or her current situation. The study's authors found that uninvited job leads are most beneficial to people who have been without a full-time job for at least five years and need these listings the most, and they're the most troubling to those who already have a full-time job and need these listings the least. [8 Best Job Search Apps ]

The study's authors speculated that there could be several reasons for this effect among full-time employees, including that they may perceive the offer as meddling, or that it could make them feel indebted, inadequate or less capable than the person providing the lead or the people who already have that kind of job.

"This kind of negative social comparison is not good for mental health," Lijun Song, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt and one of the study's authors, said in a statement.

When it comes to other forms of unsolicited support, people shouldn't be so concerned with how the gesture will make the recipient feel. Unsolicited offers of food or advice about medical care may be received quite differently because they are related to survival, the study's authors said.

Additionally, voluntary offers of purely emotional support, like calling a friend to say, "I love you," may be received more positively, according to the research.

The study was based on nationally representative data from 2004 and 2005. The research, co-authored by University of Texas at Austin assistant professor Wenhong Chen, was published recently in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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