A required job search shouldn't require a job search depression.
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.
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
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 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.
- 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.
- Create priorities by sorting the list in decreasing order so that the 5s – the most worrisome causes – appear at the top.
- 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.
- Follow through with your recommended actions, especially for the top causes on your list.
- 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
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- How to stave off depression caused by a grueling job search
- Job Search Depression: 5 Ways to Prevent It or Recover From It
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.
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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:
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