A required job search shouldn't require a job search depression.

How To Stop Being Depressed About Job Search
Photo by Ryan Holloway

If you can recognize the causes of job search depression, you can stop or even prevent job search depression from happening to you altogether.

Free bonus: Download The Job Search Depression Report which contains insights and resources on how to manage if you're too depressed to look for work.

Not having a job is depressing, I know.

In the summer of 2001, I resigned from a good tech job in France and moved back to Israel. Less than a year later, I was already wondering if it may have been one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

The next few months were supposed to be for relaxation. However, while I was lounging in the sun, the DotCom Bubble burst and with it disappeared the demand for my web development and managerial skills.

My only consolation, if you can call it that, was that if I hadn't quit I would have been laid off anyway. A very annoying consolation when you realize that by staying on a few more months, I would have received a compensation package instead of leaving empty-handed. Grrr.

10 months, 2 empty job offers, a handful of interviews and countless resume emails later, I finally moved on to my next job.

Did I expect it to take so long?


Was it a frustrating uphill climb day in and day out that felt like it might never end?

After month 3, yes.

The moment you realize that your job search is taking longer than you expected is the moment job search depression begins.

How long have you felt job search depressed?

Where does job search depression come from?

A 2002 study at the University of Michigan found that:

… secondary stressors of job loss such as financial strain and loss of personal control are the true culprits that lead to depression. The study also found that elevated levels of depression ‘may reduce the likelihood of reemployment.'

In other words, it's the anxiety and consequences of losing your job that lead to job search depression, not the job loss itself.

It's the consequences of losing your job that lead to job search depression, not the job loss itselfClick To Tweet

15 causes of job search depression

As part of a seminal article about his past job search depression, Jason Alba of JibberJobber discussed some of the causes, the first 6 listed here.

1) Loss of control – sudden, traumatic change of having a great job one day and no job the next.

2) Constant uncertainty of not knowing when the job search will end.

3) The ever-continuing quest for acceptance that is a job search.

4) Backlash of commiseration with other job seekers.

5) Feeling of insignificance stemming from a lack of replies to your many cover letters and resumes sent out.

6) Overwhelming ratio of rejection letters to positive replies.

7) The new experience of your first time being unemployed.

8) Being forced into a tough situation with no choice in the matter.

9) The unease of having to do something that you were never taught in school or simply aren't prepared for, i.e. a job search.

10) The strain of managing personal finances after your main source of revenue is gone.

11) Having to support a family or other dependents during a rough moment in your life.

12) The realization that you might be depressed and not knowing how to manage the depression.

13) The difficult need to deal with these feelings while still seeming upbeat in interviews and while networking.

14) Envying friends and family head out on vacation and enjoying life while you're required to continue the unending search.

15) Unemployment embarrassment – struggling to answer one of the most asked questions: “What do you do?”

What can you do to prevent depression from affecting your job search?

Management guru Peter Drucker once said “what gets measured gets managed.” Keeping track of your worries will help you keep them under control.

Here's how:

  1. Print out the list above or download it. Rate each cause on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of how much it's likely to affect you or is affecting you already, where 1 is “very little” and 5 is “a lot”. Feel free to add other causes that could apply in your case.
  2. Create priorities by sorting the list in decreasing order so that the 5s – the most worrisome causes – appear at the top.
  3. From the top of the list, try to imagine actions you can take to block each cause. Use my 9 Promising Ways To Deal With Job Search Depression and Anxiety as a list of suggestions.
  4. Follow through with your recommended actions, especially for the top causes on your list.
  5. After each week or month of your job search, take a few minutes to look over the previous date's estimations and understand what's working and what isn't. Then fill in new ratings for the current date, sort, and choose new blocking actions.

What others are saying

Question of the article

Which of the above job search depression causes made you worry most on your most recent job search and why? Tell us in the comments.

Video Bonus: I can't find a job and feel like a loser

Free Bonus

Download The Job Search Depression Report if you're getting depressed because you can't find a job. It contains:

  • 15 Causes of Job Search Depression and How To Prevent It
  • 13 Signs of Job Search Depression
  • Unsure About The Signs? Take The Test
  • 9 Ways To Deal With Job Search Depression

Click the image below to get access to The Job Search Depression Report:

The Job Search Depression Report - wide

JobMob Insiders can get this free bonus and other exclusive content in the JobMob Insider Bonuses area. Join now, it's free!

Looking for a job is depressing. Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter to get help keeping your spirits up while job hunting.

Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 43 Comments

  1. Meirav

    This is an intelligent, important, and helpful article for people who are searching for a job, feeling bad and want to improve their situation. The article helps understand the source of the bad feeling, and given the EXCEL, it is easy to trace the bad felling. Thanks. Meirav, recruiting expert, owner of WiseMen agency

  2. Adrian

    Being unemployed can be a great learning experience.

    1. Alan

      It can also be a hellish ones. And some of these employment agencies only exacerbate the situation by the disgusting and inconsiderate way they treat job applicants.

  3. Jacob Share

    Thanks for jumping in, Meirav. I hope the job-seeking JobMobbers will put the advice to good use.

    Adrian, you’re so right. However, people will only agree if the search has a happy ending.

  4. JOhn Thomas

    No doubt about it. Very good learning experience indeed.


  5. isabella mori

    great series – am looking forward to contributing my bit!

  6. Pete Aldin

    Trememdous article, Jacob! I work 20-25% of my month with longterm jobseekers, and this will inform the work we already do to reverse that depression. Thanks so much for alerting us to a fact of life for all those who don’t bounce from one job to the next in a short space of time!!

  7. Jacob Share

    Pete, what’s considered longterm in Australia? In France, an average job search in 2006 was 5-9 months but in North America, 5 months would already be considered a long time.

  8. isabella mori

    in canada, the vast majority of publicly funded job search programs expect a 50%-80% completion rate within 3 months.

  9. Pete Aldin

    Longterm in Australia is more than 12 months. And I’d agree with that. Once that first year ticks over, that’s a MAJOR psychological barrier.

    But some of our participants have been out of work for ten-fifteen years. (And found work, mind you.) And depression/depressiveness is a major factor to overcome in nearly every one of them.

  10. Jacob Share

    isabella- do those programs cover all professions? There are many large companies like Google for which a typical recruitment process can easily take longer than 2 months, and that’s just for one opening to fill.

    Pete- one year is definitely long in my book, I can understand why it becomes such a milestone to avoid. Few people would not be depressed by that point.

  11. Deborah

    I have been looking for about 2 months now, and the WORST thing I find is this whole electronic age.
    I find that I have NO control over who in that company gets my resume, no contact name for future follow-up!
    I might just become a headhunter again.

  12. Pingback: Middle Zone Musings » What I Learned From 2008 - Jacob Share (JobMob)

  13. Pingback: adamcroney

  14. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for 15 Causes of Job Search Depression and How To Prevent It | JobMob [jobmob.co.il] on Topsy.com

  15. luis akmz

    i live in australia and i have been looking for a job for 1 and a half years 🙁 ive been receiving endless rejection letters and Im losing hope. Everyone I know and gre up with has a life and Im stuck.

  16. Scarffy

    Hi everyone,

    I don’t like to say it but everyone at some time suffers from jobseeker depression, everyone is competing against the masses of applications applying for one job, so this is when you need to brand yourselves for jobs that you can do it confidently when you apply for job against the masses who have similar experience.

    I personally believe no. 10 should be no. 1 when you have the banks biting at your ankles and you have a young family to support in today’s economy would have to be the most difficult situation and hardest challenge anyone has to face and we can thank the Government for that…. too many promises broken.

    I am not married nor have a family but I believe the Government spent our surplus too soon our manufacturing has suffered and so has 40% of our households.

    Let’s just hope it changes soon!


  17. deebee

    Thank you so much for this. I am going to start using the spreadsheet. It is so hard to stay motivated- each unsuccessful interview leads to more desperation which makes the subsequent interview even less successful. Yet, one can’t be too confident because they don’t want that either. I no longer know what employers want, and never had a problem landing a job since I was 13 years old. I’m hoping the suggestions here help with the depression and oversleeping. Thanks again from sunny, jobless California.

  18. vijay

    Dear sir,

    I have the qualification, experience but no job .my problem is because of carrier break after good experience due to my superior

    Almost the break is about one year, I started sleeping again I gone to job with 2months I was forced to leave due to accident.

    Depression leads me more negative thoughts and sleepiness

  19. Rachel ann

    I live in NY, one of the worst cities to be unemployed. I finished a job in Nov. 2016. And now looking ever since, at times I feel disgusted and depressed. At 40 yrs, you just want to build your savings, and be financially stable. I started exercising to bring down my stress levels. This blog was great thanks for posting.

    1. Jacob Share

      Thanks for sharing, Rachel Ann. Keep your chin up 💯

  20. Jacob Share

    Just posted a major update to this article 💪

  21. Mary

    In May, the company I worked for shut down and let over 100 people go. I have been applying for positions (45 so far with just 1 interview) the part that I am struggling with is that other people within the department are accepting positions that pay far less than our salary ($14/hr). I am making enough on unemployment to pay my fixed bills. They tell me to apply with them, but I won’t be able to pay my bills on $11/hr. I just don’t want to rush into a situation where I would be struggling just because others are questioning why I haven’t received a job offer yet.

    1. Jacob Share

      If you’re making enough on unemployment to pay the bills, you absolutely shouldn’t apply with other people within the department and accept lower pay, which would be putting yourself in a position for failure since you know you won’t be able to pay the bills without another source of income.

      The whole point of unemployment insurance is to prop you up until you can get back up on your feet. Continue taking advantage of it to look for a job that will pay you what you need if not more.

  22. Nigel

    Thank you for taking the time and trouble to answer my questions about your report.

    Since you took the trouble to write it , i took the trouble to read it and now understand it better thanks to you.

    I wonder if there is anything that could follow on apart from prevention and better cure. Such an important work needs to develop in some way.

    1. Jacob Share

      Which questions? 😉

      I agree with you that a lot more work should be done to address job search depression, and I hope it will happen as mental health issues continue gaining more attention in general. I’ll keep blogging about it, that’s for certain.

Leave a Reply