6 causes of job search depression and how to prevent it
Even if you’re generally a positive, optimistic person, losing a job and searching for a new one can be a painful, challenging process – especially if it’s taking longer than you expected to land a new gig.
According to a study by Connie Wanberg, Associate Dean at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, people tend to experience a steady improvement in their sense of well-being in the period just after losing their jobs. If, however, they have not found a job after 10 to 12 weeks, the trend tends to reverse, causing several issues, including depression.
To help you keep your head up, here are six causes of job search depression, and what you can do to prevent it.
Loss of control
Suddenly losing your job can be a traumatic change, especially if you’ve been at the same company for many years. It’s important to recognize that the feelings you’re experiencing are common and normal in this scenario.
One of the most difficult things to handle during unemployment is the uncertainty of it all. You don’t know when or if your job search will end; you don’t know how hiring managers are reacting to your resume; and worst of all, you don’t know where you’ll be in the weeks and months ahead.
In a sense, a job search is a quest for acceptance. You want to get people to notice you and your talents, and then welcome you to the fold. Losing your job and dealing with a long job search can make you feel unwanted, but it’s important to remember that this is just temporary.
The average job posting gets 250 applications. I’m not saying this to discourage you; it’s simply a reminder that you are competition with many people, and rejection will be part of the game. After a while, it’s common to start feeling bad about yourself, but you must stay positive.
One of the most difficult aspects of unemployment is the financial strain after your main source of revenue has dried up. For obvious reasons, this can lead to a feeling of desperation and helplessness.
It is very common to feel ashamed about being unemployed, especially if it’s your first time dealing with unemployment. This can cause people to avoid social situations, or to hide their employment situation from friends and family.
So now that we’ve seen what can cause job search depression, what can we do to prevent it? Here are a few tips:
Keep a journal
One of the easiest ways to feel more in control of the job search process is to start keeping track of what you’re doing. A job search journal can be used to record application details, including jobs, contact details, interview dates, and more importantly, your thoughts and feelings along each step of the way.
Not only will this help you stay organized, it will also give you the opportunity to vent. If you’re not in the habit of writing every day, there are several sites that can help out, including 750 Words or Penzu.
Establish a routine
It’s very easy to lose any sense of structure in your life when you’re unemployed; you can start to sleep in and avoid responsibilities. To stay productive (and positive), turn your job search into your new job, with a set daily routine. This can be as simple as looking for new jobs on Workopolis every morning for a set period, followed by updating your resume and applying, and then looking for networking opportunities in the afternoon.
Exercising and staying active is a great way to release some of the stress caused by unemployment. It can also ensure that you stay energetic and positive. Platforms like My Fitness Pal and Endomondo can help you keep track of your progress and provide training tips.
As mentioned above, a lot of unemployed people feel ashamed about their situation, and they turn inward. This tendency is not helpful. Leveraging networking opportunities and support groups is an essential tool to fighting off job searching depression, helping you alleviate feelings of loneliness, and creating opportunities to make useful contacts.
After all, research shows that about 80% of the jobs are secured via networking. What’s the lesson? When the going gets tough, start connecting or reconnecting with your family, friends, professors, former colleagues, and recruiters.
Hit the refresh button
Recruiters take only 10 seconds to scan resumes. To get noticed, your resume must be clean, up-to-date, and succinct. If you need inspiration, there are some great resources online for resume formats and templates, including Workopolis.
It’s also important to take the time to give yourself a refresh. Can you improve or develop skills that are relevant to your target industry? Doing so can make you feel much more pro-active (and less helpless), to say nothing of the difference it can make when in competition for a job. To help, we recently outlined several online resources that can help you boost your career.
Skills development and networking doesn’t always have to be purely industry specific. You can often achieve the same results while also giving something back. Sites like the Volunteer Match can help you find a cause that speaks to you and helps you improve your skills set (and increase your contacts).
This brings up a key point in the overall fight against job search depression: you should not let your job define you. Now that you have time, explore other interests and passions. Not only will this help your well-being, it will, once you do land that next job, ensure that your self-worth is not related directly to your career.
In the end, as hard and long as it might be, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the job search. Be pro-active, and stay positive!
Gloria Kopp is a recruiting and business consultant based in Manville, New Jersey. She currently works as a content manager at Ukwritings, and is a regular contributor to Engadget, The Huffington Post, and Studydemic.