Nobody likes a job search. It might be fun for the first couple of days, but it quickly gets old. You just want to put the process behind you and start doing something you love.
Unfortunately, the timeline for a job hunt can be weeks or even months at a time. This can lead to frustration and depression for job seekers.
When Depression Rears Its Ugly Head
Spending hours and hours on a job search every day and not seeing any results can make you feel scared, helpless, and even worthless at times.
As JibberJobber founder Jason Alba told CIO, “When an $8-an-hour HR intern doesn’t return your emails, you start to think: Was I a good programmer? Was I a good strategist? Was I a good operations manager?”
The longer a job search takes, and the more effort poured in with no results to show, the more self-doubt and depression can creep in. Symptoms of depression include difficulty sleeping, over- or under-eating, increased irritability and aggressiveness, and even drug or alcohol abuse.
Depression is particularly dangerous because it becomes a vicious cycle: The more depressed you get, the harder it gets to search for and find jobs that meet your criteria. You become pessimistic and complacent when you should be optimistic and ambitious.
How to Avoid Job Search Depression
Not everyone experiences job search depression, but many do. It’s imperative for all professionals to understand how they can avoid this affliction:
1. Focus on the Things You Can Control
The reason so many job seekers experience anxiety and depression is because so many aspects of the job hunt are beyond their control. A job seeker can’t make someone read their resume, review their application, return their call, or schedule an interview.
The best piece of advice is to focus on the things you can control. You can work on your resume, practice writing better cover letters, study interview questions, and reach out to your personal network, for example. Pour your energy into the things you have a say over, and you’ll feel more accomplished at the end of the day.
2. Keep a Routine
Another reason job seekers face depression is because, now that they are jobless, they lack structure in their daily lives. They can wake up when they want, watch TV all day, and stay up as late as they want.
While it might be fun to treat a Monday like a Saturday every now and then, you need to keep a routine in order to stay on track. Even when you’re jobless, stick to your routine. That might mean waking up at 6 a.m., going to the gym, and then doing a few hours of job-search work in the afternoon. What’s most important is that you develop a schedule and keep to it.
3. Be Open With People
A lot of people are embarrassed to say they’re unemployed or looking for a job. While there is sometimes a stigma to being out of work, the last thing you want to do is keep to yourself when looking for a job. You need the support of others, and you should try to be as open and honest as possible.
When you’re open with people, you give them a chance to encourage you and lift your spirits. Being honest can also open up new opportunities: You never know who might have a connection that leads to your next job.
When you’re unemployed and unable to find a job for weeks or months on end, it’s hard to stay positive and upbeat. You start to wonder if you’re good enough. However, you have to keep pushing through. To attack the job search with optimism and ambition, follow the above tips to avoid job search depression.