15 Causes of Job Search Depression and How To Prevent It

If you can recognize the potential causes and signs of job search depression, you may be able to limit the consequences or even prevent job search depression from happening to you altogether.

15 Causes of Job Search Depression and How To Prevent It

Photo Credit:  Sebastien Wiertz

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.

Quick story

In the summer of 2001, I resigned from a good hitech job in France and moved back to Israel. At one point later, I thought 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 Internet Bubble burst and with it disappeared the demand for my Web 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 moved on to my next job.

Did I expect it to take so long?

No.

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.'”

Job Search Depression Broken Glass

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

15 Causes

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. The additional causes appear together in one easy-to-print list for the prevention metrics below.

  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 for prevention?

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, download the Excel or OpenOffice version. In terms of how much a cause is likely to affect you or is affecting you already, rate it on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is “very little” and 5 is “a lot”. Feel free to add other causes that would 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.
  4. Follow through with your recommended actions, especially for the top causes on your list.
  5. After each month of your job search, take a few minutes to look over the previous month'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.

Conclusion

A required job search doesn't require a job search depression. If you're aware of the problem, you can avoid its consequences with some anticipation and preventative actions.

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 download button

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

Looking for work is hard work. Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter to get help lightening your job search burden.

About the Author Jacob Share

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

Leave a Comment:

33 comments
Jacob Share
Meirav says

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

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Jacob Share
Adrian says

Being unemployed can be a great learning experience.

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    Jacob Share
    Alan says

    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.

    Reply
Jacob Share
Jacob Share says

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.

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Jacob Share
JOhn Thomas says

No doubt about it. Very good learning experience indeed.

JT

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Jacob Share
isabella mori says

great series – am looking forward to contributing my bit!

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Jacob Share
13 Signs of Job Search Depression | JobMob says

[…] Articles 13 Signs of Job Search Depression 7 Funny Newspaper Job Wanted Ads You’ve Never Seen 15 Causes of Job Search Depression and How To Prevent It All Day Thursday: Jerusalem Job Fair for First-Time Job Seekers 28th Annual Tel Aviv University Job […]

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Jacob Share
Pete Aldin says

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!!

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Jacob Share
9 Ways To Deal With Job Search Depression | JobMob says

[…] 13 Signs of Job Search Depression 7 Funny Newspaper Job Wanted Ads You’ve Never Seen 15 Causes of Job Search Depression and How To Prevent It All Day Thursday: Jerusalem Job Fair for First-Time Job Seekers 28th Annual Tel Aviv University Job […]

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Jacob Share
Jacob Share says

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.

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Jacob Share
isabella mori says

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

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Jacob Share
Pete Aldin says

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.

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Jacob Share
Jacob Share says

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.

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Jacob Share
Deborah says

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.

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Jacob Share
ERAN Gives You Emotional First Aid in Israel | JobMob says

[…] 13 Signs of Job Search Depression 7 Funny Newspaper Job Wanted Ads You’ve Never Seen 15 Causes of Job Search Depression and How To Prevent It All Day Thursday: Jerusalem Job Fair for First-Time Job Seekers 28th Annual Tel Aviv University Job […]

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Jacob Share
Middle Zone Musings » What I Learned From 2008 - Jacob Share (JobMob) says

[…] May: 15 Causes of Job Search Depression and How To Prevent It […]

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Jacob Share
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[…] Being productive in a work role will keep your spirits up and help you otherwise avoid job search depression. […]

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Jacob Share
Diary of an unemployed graduate in the recession | TalentEgg Career Incubator says

[…] but it’s important to take my point seriously to avoid nasty side-effects like desperation, depression and low self-esteem. It only takes one employer to give you the break you need, so keep applying for […]

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

[…] 15 Causes of Job Search Depression and How To Prevent It | JobMob jobmob.co.il/blog/job-search-depression-causes-and-prevention – view page – cached Limit the consequences or even prevent job search depression from happening to you. — From the page […]

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Jacob Share
luis akmz says

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.

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Jacob Share
Jacob Share says

luis- I blogged an article just for people in your situation:

Long Job Search? 25 Action Tips To End Yours ASAP

Do you find it helpful?

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Jacob Share
Scarffy says

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!

Scarffy

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Jacob Share
deebee says

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.

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Jacob Share
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Jacob Share
15 Causes Of Job Search Depression | SAHW In Singapore says

[…] across this article that sums thing up […]

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Jacob Share
vijay says

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

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Jacob Share
Rachel ann says

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.

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