Job Search Depression: 7 Tips To Deal With It. (What To Do About It NOW!)
Why is job searching so depressing? Job search depression can appear at many stages of people’s careers. When you are on the job search, after being laid off from a job, or if you have been out of work for some time, or are just plain looking for your first job, chances are it is going to take longer than you expect. The problem with this is the roller-coaster ride of emotions that this brings: anxiety, depression, hopelessness, or even a feeling of worthlessness. These symptoms can be hard to shake off, but you’ve got to. You can’t afford to allow yourself to spiral down out of control and crash and burn.
When you are on the hunt for a new job, this turns into your full-time job. You must relentlessly search for new positions across the web, network with friends, participate in events, tweak your resume to mirror the job description and many other things. Why is job searching so depressing? Even after doing all these things, you may not have gotten accepted or hired for that position that looked like it was a good fit or that you were in the running for and in the last round.
Learn to Manage Your Feelings
Job searching is depressing, it takes a long time, and can really eat away at you. Nevertheless, it is important that you do not lose sight of your end goal: the desired position that you want. When you become negative and depressed, these forces work against you. Your mind is not as sharp, creativity is lacking or gone, you are more prone to mood swings, and even your energy levels seem to wane. What’s more, the worst part of this is, how are you going to appear when you speak with the recruiter or hiring manager at a company? Through questioning, verbal cues, tone, and body language, professional recruiters can see right through to how you are really feeling. This can be something very hard to fake. The most important thing here is to learn how to manage your feelings. Your job search depression will be harder to cope with if you are unable to manage your feelings.
Patience is a Virtue
Job search depression can have a lot to do with patience vs anxiety. Sometimes we are not patient enough, or our expectations are not realistic. Every company you interview with will have a different timeline to hire a new candidate. Some companies are just “browsing” to see if they find a perfect fit, some need a candidate for yesterday and the one with the best skills and qualifications in a small talent pool will get picked. Other companies go through a whole process to select who fits the mold of the company. Company timelines are not aligned with your timeline, so you must be extra patient.
Setting realistic expectations is a must. You need to apply for positions that are in your wheel house and roles for which you have the right skills. Don’t go applying for positions that are a big stretch from where you currently are in your career. This doesn’t mean that these jobs aren’t achievable, but they will be harder to get.
Reasonable Goals on Your To-do List
As you are on your job search, it is important to get busy. One thing I can’t stress enough is Get Out of The House. Getting out of the house can alleviate job search depression, take the job search off your mind for a while and helps you focus on other things. During this time, take some new courses. Hone your skills in a new area. It could be about leadership, coding or whatever interests you. These courses not only add to your professional toolkit but can be something new for your resume. When you are unemployed, you may not want to spend any money, and that is fine. Take advantage of free courses on Coursera, Udemy, CodeCademy, and the many other free course websites. There are a ton of massive online open courses (MOOCs) out there, so take one!
Volunteering is another great option. Check out a list of organizations in your area that have volunteer roles. This could be in your area of expertise or something different. The important thing is that you are getting out of the house, networking with people, and doing one more thing you can add to your resume. Job search depression can be managed, and you must take control of it.
Networking is an essential part of your job search. Meet up with a friend for coffee and let him know you are on the job hunt. See if he knows anyone who is a recruiter or maybe works at a company that interests you. Go to lectures. There are plenty of them out there and many are free. Check out college campuses. Often, they have lectures to try to attract new students, and this can be a great way to meet people. Job fairs can also be a great place to get in front of recruiters and pitch your skills. Have you seen that site MeetUP? There are tons of groups on there and different ones for each profession. Definitely a resource worth exploring.
Linkedin also has a lot of groups you can join. If you are in marketing or product management, or many other professions, there are special groups tailored to those professions. Join the conversation. Share articles you have written or ones that you have read. Try to gain more visibility. Additionally, many of these groups have events. Find an event and go!
Exercise – Do not underestimate exercise! Besides being a great way to stay in shape, it is a great way to keep our mental health in balance. Physical exercise helps us release endorphins and rid ourselves of stress. Creating a good workout regime can help us become more disciplined and resilient, and this is a great way to deal with the job search.
Constantly Add to the Pipeline
This is probably one of the most important things you can do. Suppose you are interviewing at a few companies and one of the interviews is already at the last phase. In most cases, you have probably taken your foot off the gas pedal and stopped doing your intense job searches and reduced the number of resumes being sent out. This is a fatal flaw and must be avoided. Notice that at times you have quite a few interviews, and then a dry spell. When you have a series of interviews, it is still important to search for new positions so that you don’t have a dry spell later. You don’t want the wave affect, the in and out. You want a constant IN-flow of interviews. Now, how is this related to job search depression? Simple: remember how you felt when you didn’t have a series of interviews, when you were in a dry spell? It sucks. You want to have a constant number of interviews, always something in the pipeline. Having a constant number of interviews helps you remain positive!
Be Selective – Don’t Just Accept Anything
When you are in the job search for a long period of time, you have probably reached the point where you are saying to yourself, I’m willing to take something else.” Maybe it is a position below your level or something totally different. Don’t fall into temptation. You have been at the job hunt for a long time and have spent countless hours tweaking your resume, cover letter, and answering a myriad of questions to get through interview filters. If you can hold off on taking this lower position, it is best. If, however, you have a financial issue or absolutely need the new position, it is ok. One thing to think about is that your earning potential might suffer with this lower position, and if you took on a tedious position, you might be at the job search again in 6 months. That could restart job search depression and anxiety. If you can hold off, do it.
It’s OK to Get A Helping Hand
The interview process and the often long wait to get hired for a new position can send you on an emotional roller-coaster ride. For some people, it is common to become angry, sad, depressed, and have the feeling that it is hopeless; you are never going to get a job. These feelings can be hard to shake off and getting your head clear and focused can be a nightmare. I don’t mean to say that it is not common to feel anxious or even depressed from the long job search. That’s not it. But if it goes to another level where it becomes hard to control, talk to someone. Talk to a friend or someone you know who has gone through it. You may even talk to a career coach or a mentor. Find someone you trust and has had that professional experience. You may even consider talking with a medical professional. No shame here. After all, these professionals can help you refocus.
Learn and Improve, Constantly
As you go through the grueling job hunt process, there is one thing you should focus on: what can you do to improve your current search process? You need to do a self-analysis of the way you look for jobs and find out, “What can I do better?” “Can I do any of this more efficiently and effectively?” Find these areas and improve them. In most cases, you can save a good deal of time. These could be little things or even bigger things. I’ll name a few. Some job applications ask for you to fill in a series of skills you have. Normally these are typed in. Instead of going searching for these on your resume, create a separate Word doc with skills separated by commas. With a quick copy/paste, that is done. Create different versions of your resume. In my case, I am a product manager, e-learning professional, and have worked extensively in marketing, so I have three separate resumes for each of these areas.
How is your resume performing? Do you get more interest in one compared to another? Have you made certain tweaks to your resume that get more bites? Preferably, you should tweak your resume to mirror the position you are applying for. Although this takes time, it is your best option. Also, get your resume reviewed by friends and other professionals. I can’t stress this enough.
Are you originally from a particular segment or have you worked in a few different markets? You might have more appeal to recruiters if you are presenting to the right crowd. I am originally an entrepreneur and have launched my own EdTech startup in the past. When I look for companies, I tend to look in the education segment as they are more in my wheelhouse. I receive 4 to 5x more interviews sending to these companies as opposed to healthcare, financial or other segments. Play to your strengths.
Grab the reigns of job search process and keep job search depression at bay. Take advantage of this time to learn new things, meet new people, and be patient. The right job will come along, but it is important to keep at it. Keep job hunting, be selective, and learn and always improve on your job search.
I know there may have been other tips I forgot to address in this text. Please feel free to share any tips you have about dealing with job search depression in the comments section below so the community can learn from your experience.
For more interview tips, check out the CareerPrep blog and the CareerPrep and English Interviews Youtube channels.