Looking for a job can be stressful. Students, people who want to change careers, or those who are looking for better job prospects often stress out or even get depressed while searching for a job. But don’t despair as there are ways to beat job search depression.
A study by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index proves that there is a correlation between employment and psychological well-being. People who don’t have a job are twice as likely to suffer from depression. Moreover, the longer a person stays unemployed, the higher the chances of being depressed.
That is why it is essential to continue looking for a job before it affects your mental health. We recommend that you find a way to occupy yourself with something until you receive your dream offer.
Read this article to learn how to avoid depression while looking for a job and how to keep yourself motivated. We will explain job search depression, its symptoms, and how to fight it. Also, check out our latest free essays that will assist you in your studies, work, and other life situations.
What is job search depression?
Job search depression is a depression that people experience while seeking a job; the longer it takes to find a new position, the more severe the consequences can be. The main reasons for its emergence are hopelessness and a declining feeling of self-worth. It might come with anxiety or panic attacks, and it could present the symptoms of chronic depression, too, such as sleep disorders, eating disorders, and social anxiety.
The reasons behind job search depression are rooted in the modern attitude towards success. Today’s society judges people by occupation and income, practically equating a job to an identity. Associating success with career achievements and material purchases turns out to be harmful to employees and society in general.
Why is job hunting so stressful?
There are many reasons why looking for a job can be stressful and lead to depression. Most people find constant interviews and an uncertain future to be demoralizing.
According to the Pew Research Center, 49% of unemployed job seekers do not think they will find a job soon. 37% of those who believe they will be hired still don’t think they will find a job better than their last one.
Here are some of the most common reasons for job search depression:
Safety is one of the primary needs for human beings. Not having control over our life undermines a feeling of security and certainty, drains us mentally and emotionally, and causes stress. This can lead to a deeper depression if the job search is delayed.
We experience uncertainty from the moment we send our CV to a potential employer until the first day at the new position. We don’t know how much time we will need to find a job or even if the effort will pay off. Therefore, it is crucial to prepare for this process so as not to give up in the early stages or fall into depression.
Modern society dictates how we feel about ourselves in many areas of life, and your career is no exception. People tend to condemn others who don’t have a job or don’t live up to common expectations of success. Even Human Resource executives are sometimes suspicious of people who are unemployed when they apply for a job. Because of certain stereotypes, companies may discriminate against unemployed people or be prejudiced against them.
Recent studies have shown that social stigma stimulates people to look for jobs more intensely. However, this doesn’t increase their chances of being hired.
On average, job applicants send their CVs to 11-15 openings and receive about 6-10 rejections. After the fifth rejection, people start losing confidence in themselves. But this is not a reason to despair and give up. According to the same study, 75% of candidates found their dream job within three months. Rejection is unpleasant, but it’s just part of the job search process.
You can try to find out the reason for the refusal and learn a lesson for the future. Maybe you need to study and become more proficient with a certain skill, lower your salary expectations, or devote time to soft skills.
Inappropriate hiring practices
Some companies reject or don’t notice decent candidates by mistake or due to malpractice. When a job seeker encounters such an attitude, it might cause stress.
Here are some examples of employer’s unfair treatment:
1. Inappropriate interview questions. This happens when HRs ask questions that discriminate or harass the applicants.
2. Incompetent HR managers. Some HRs don’t understand the technical aspects of the job. As a result, they cannot correctly assess the candidate’s level. Therefore, they end up making wrong conclusions and wasting candidates’ time.
3. Job ghosting. An HR might abruptly terminate communication with the applicant. Sometimes they may reach out to you after a month or two, which indicates poor etiquette.
4. Automated hiring systems. A software flaw can be why you never hear from a company after sending your CV. Recruitment systems can mistakenly screen out suitable candidates.
Be aware that you are not responsible for any of these cases. Try to get more details from the employer, and under no circumstances should you take their rejection personally.
Symptoms of depression you shouldn’t ignore
Stress is a natural part of any life change, including a job search. However, constant stress can lead to severe depression. How do you know when it’s too much?
Feeling sad and hopeless
It is ok to be sad from time to time – a person cannot constantly be happy.
But when you feel despondent and hopeless about finding a job most of the time, this is a reason to suspect depression. Try to notice every time you feel sad when there are no other reasons for it. If your pessimism becomes a permanent state, consider therapy.
Having sleep disorders
Depression often comes with sleep problems. They can exist in various forms and mess up your sleeping schedule. Most commonly, people who suffer from depression find it hard to fall asleep at night and get out of bed in the morning. Because of that, depressed people may sleep too much or too little. In both cases, it is unhealthy for the human body and can lead to even more serious symptoms.
Doubting your skills and abilities
Rejections or anxiety about possible rejections might severely harm your self-esteem. While it doesn’t have to do anything with your skills and abilities, your perception of yourself can drastically change.
Self-doubt can be rational or irrational. Being too self-confident is harmful, too. But if self-doubt wastes your time and lowers your quality of life, it can signify depression. Additionally, self-doubt can be a sign of low self-esteem in general.
Experiencing job search fatigue
Some people describe this as “a spark disappearing.” Others are tired of countless interviews and test tasks. In this case, you just need to rest. If resting doesn’t help, it can be a sign of a deeper issue. Feeling tired for no reason is one of the symptoms of psychological fatigue. Your mind is tired from constant stress and projects this state onto your body. Therapy or self-help is a good decision in this case.
Having job search anxiety
Constantly searching for a job can make people anxious because of uncertainty. 93% of candidates experience stress because of job interviews. People also tend to worry and overthink when they don’t hear back from a company after sending their CVs. Anxiety can be a sign of depression if it lasts for a long time and makes your life more complicated than it was before.
Struggling to Experience Joy or Connection
If a person doesn’t enjoy previously pleasant activities and avoids communicating with others, this is a sign of depression, called anhedonia. Depressed people find it hard to connect with things and people. They begin to lose interest in something or someone they used to enjoy. This can apply to any aspect of life, including hobbies, friendships, relationships, food, and life. Self-isolation, resulting from resentment and despondency, can lead to even more severe consequences.
Overcoming Job Search Depression: 6 Steps
Take the steps described below to overcome job search depression.
Step 1. Make a Plan for Job Search and Rejections
Make plans with short-term goals to keep yourself motivated. These can involve:
1. editing your resume,
2. reviewing common interview questions,
3. or honing your LinkedIn profile.
You can also schedule sending several job applications for each weak. This will help you stay motivated and keep searching for exciting openings without being too overwhelmed. In case you receive a rejection, get feedback from the employers. You can adjust your plans and work on your weak spots based on their responses.
Step 2. Organize Your Job Search
It’s not a good idea to send your CV everywhere only because you are desperate. Applying for any job only because it offers a good paycheck is not a good idea either. Instead:
1. Make a list of the job positions that are a priority to you.
2. Think of some spare options in case you can’t find the ideal one.
You can also create a list of criteria your desired company should meet. If you cannot find this information online, you can ask about it later in an interview.
Step 3. Set a Routine
Even if you don’t have specific working hours, it is still better to have a scheduled routine. This will make you more disciplined and organized while you search for a job.
1. Having a pattern helps reduce stress as you plan for your day.
2. Let’s say you devote one hour a day to sending your CVs and looking for new job openings. Then you can also spend 3 hours a day mastering your skills and preparing for job interviews.
Being disciplined about your sleep schedule should also be a part of your daily routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time benefits your physical and psychological health.
Step 4. Reevaluate Your Career Goals
Depression or apathy might indicate that your chosen career path is not the right fit for you. Maybe it’s time to reassess your career goals. Some indicators that you are at the wrong place are doing something only for money or because someone influenced your career choice.
1. Find something that you are genuinely passionate about.
2. Check out career and personality tests online to discover the best options.
Step 5. stay social
Many people tend to cut off communication when they feel depressed. However, you should do the opposite if you want to feel better.
1. Friends and family can provide the support you need – don’t close yourself off.
2. Try to remain connected to a larger community.
Always remember that networking works for your career even if you don’t have a job. Someone you know or a friend of someone you know can refer you to your future employer.
Step 6. seek professional help
Sometimes everything you do to cope with depression yourself is not enough. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you need professional help and seeing a therapist.
1. Professional help can get you back on track faster.
2. Guide you through your job search process.
Ask for help, especially if you notice any health problems that go with a bad mood. Substance abuse and thoughts about self-harm also indicate that you need to reach out to a professional therapist.
How to Conduct a Job Search Effectively
The best way to avoid job search depression is to find a job as soon as possible. We have listed job seekers’ most common mistakes and tips on searching for a job and passing an interview.
Lack of Focus
Sending the same CV and cover letter to different companies is not the most effective strategy.
Adapt your CV for every position you apply for, focusing on the particular aspects of the job description. There is no need to include irrelevant experience or education. Do this only if you feel it can be a positive addition to your CV.
Errors and Typos
Errors, typos, inconsistencies, or other mistakes make a negative impression.
Proofread everything you send to your prospective employers. Errors and typos can damage their first impression of you even before they meet you in person. Also, look for inconsistencies or grammatical mistakes in the materials you submit in your job application. Everything should be polished to make the HRs confident that you are honest and responsible.
Understatement of soft skills
Ignoring soft skills in a CV might lead to missed opportunities.
Applicants sometimes forget to mention soft skills in their CVs, such as communication and teamwork. But these skills are essential to employers because they indicate that you can help maintain a healthy work environment. In your cover letter, include an example of a team project success or describe how you can be a great team player.
Improper use of social networks
Inappropriate content on your social media might repel hiring managers.
Hiring managers are very likely to look you up online. Ensure that your online presence doesn’t compromise or contradict your CV. Work on your LinkedIn profile and delete embarrassing posts on social media. If you don’t have anything to worry about, Google yourself, just in case. Make sure that everything is alright.
Omission of research
Going to an interview unprepared lowers your chances of making a good impression.
Do your homework before an interview. Knowing as much as possible about the company you plan to work for is always beneficial. It will help you determine if you are a good match from the beginning. Hiring managers will also notice your genuine interest in the position if you show some knowledge about the company.
Underuse of available resources
Browsing only job search engines narrows your vision and limits options.
You miss many opportunities if you look for a job only on job listings. You should use your network to make your search easier and find the most suitable position. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends or ex-colleagues for help. In addition, you can chat with the HR managers of the companies where you would like to work. You can easily find them on LinkedIn in most cases.
Tips on Searching for the Right Job
Here is how you can make your job search easier and more organized:
Aim for quality (not quantity) in your applications. Making high-quality resumes and cover letters for each opening will make your applications stand out. You will also be more focused and consistent in communicating because you aren’t talking with too many companies simultaneously.
Apply for a job even if you don’t meet all requirements. A job description might be a company’s vision of its perfect employee, but it doesn’t mean all candidates will possess these skills and qualities. You might miss out on your chance, and someone with half of your qualifications may get the position.
Understand your industry. Review LinkedIn profiles of people with similar positions or in the same industry. Make a list of skills, traits, professional training, or books to succeed in this field.
Diversify your search. You don’t need to use only standard job search websites. You can use several of them and industry-specific ones, too, but also monitor social networks and communicate with friends or your professional network.
Beware of suspicious jobs. Avoid disclosing any financial information or your payment details. Protect your personal information, and don’t pay for any job opportunities. Research the company you apply for and check their reviews.
Stay professional in your communication. Keep your emails professional even if you already know the hiring manager. Proofread your writing and try to reply promptly. Avoid any familiarity, slang, or inappropriate contractions. Remember that no matter how friendly your communication is, it is still a professional environment.
Consider an internship. An internship is perfect if you have just graduated from college or switched your career. It is an easy way to understand if this position is a match for you.
Tips for preparing for an effective job interview
Prepare for your job interview using this advice:
Research the company and the desired position. The more you know, the better. Your knowledge will be helpful during the interview. And you can save time if you see that the company isn’t a good fit for you.
Be ready to explain the achievements stated in your resume. Don’t think that an interviewer will know everything from your CV. You will probably need to explain your experiences related to the position.
Prepare a list of questions. Any interview gives you a chance to inquire about the company. Asking well-formulated questions will show that you take this position seriously.
Clarify your selling points. Think about why this company and this job are perfect for you and why you are perfect for them.
Be honest about your motivation. This can include the company’s values, approach to colleagues, perks, networking, career prospects, etc.
Practice answering common interview questions. Research common interview questions for your position or this particular company.
Prepare to address gaps in your experience. If you have been jobless for some time, think about how to explain those periods. Emphasize what kind of experience you gained or knowledge you acquired during this period.
Take care of your appearance and supplemental materials. You need to dress appropriately and bring a copy of your resume. You can also bring your portfolio if the job requires it.
Job search checklist
Everything seems more manageable when you break it into smaller parts. You can divide your job search into four stages. We will explain each of them below.
Stage 1 – Research and Set Goals
Make a list of positions and companies that appeal to you. Then, research the qualifications needed for each job and each company. Don’t forget to study the company’s mission statement and values.
Consider what skills you need or plan to develop if you apply to a particular position in a specific company. Set goals for the near future. These can consist of moving to another country, getting promoted, expanding your knowledge in some way, etc.
Stage 2 – Prepare the Documents
Remember that you might need to customize these documents for each application:
1. CV. Keep it 1-2 pages long and make it as concise as possible. Include relevant professional experiences, and don’t forget to highlight your achievements.
2. Cover letter. This should indicate your interest in the position and explain your motivation. Pay attention to your tone of voice, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and logic.
3. References. Try to obtain 3-4 professional references from your former employers, colleagues, professors, or supervisors.
Stage 3 – Network
Never underestimate the power of knowing the right people. Here’s how you can get closer to a job offer using networking:
1. Create a LinkedIn profile. Connect with your peers, ex-colleagues, employers, or hiring managers at your dream companies.
2. Visit the career center at your college. They can help you find your first job or internship within your chosen industry.
3. Use your connections within your family and friend circle. There is a chance that someone they know is looking for someone with your skills.
4. Visit professional industry events. You can find these events through the people you know, your college, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social networks.
Stage 4 – Search for a Job
We’ll never get tired of repeating – organize your job search process!
1. Make a spreadsheet to organize your search. Create a list of all the jobs you plan to apply for and include basic info about them.
2. Send your CV and cover letter to job postings. Once you have created a job database, customize your documents, and send them to the employers.
3. Call within 7-10 days if there is no answer. Your CV may have been lost, or an HR manager might not have seen it for some reason.
4. Call or write directly to the employer. You can contact the main person in your department (for example, marketing). Some jobs aren’t advertised, so taking the initiative might be your chance for success.
Use our advice to fight job search depression and finally find the position that makes you happy. It can seem complicated, but the results are worth it. You might feel demotivated and lost at first, but following our recommendations will give you the energy to continue.
Here are some benefits of defeating job search depression and sticking to your plan:
• You will be a better candidate. HR managers will see you as more positive and outgoing when communicating with you.
• You will be more productive as an employee. Being resourceful will help you stay focused and make you a better team player.
• You are more likely to make the right choice. Depression might make you apply for anything you see because you are desperate.
• You will be healthier and happier. After all, these two things are far more important than your career.
We wish you luck in your job search and believe you will get what you want!
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