Ways to Overcome Job Search Depression

Job Search Depression - head on table

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median unemployment duration is 8.7 weeks or just over two months (June 2023).  On average, employers post jobs 37.5 days before conducting interviews and from there it takes an average of 23.6 days for companies to make an offer (National Association of Colleges and Employers). 

The job search process is an emotional journey of highs and lows. It is elation over an interview and hopelessness over the rejection that follows.  It is second guessing, being vulnerable, and more than anything–it is waiting.  Here’s why many people get depressed during the job search process and ways to overcome these feelings.

Job Search Depression Caused by Financial Stress

While the average unemployment duration is about two months, many people take much longer to secure a new job. With payroll timing, job seekers can face the reality of living without a paycheck for many months. This financial stress takes a mental and physical toll.  “Feeling beaten down by money worries can adversely impact your sleep, self-esteem, and energy levels. It can leave you feeling angry, ashamed, or fearful, fuel tension and arguments with those closest to you, exacerbate pain and mood swings, and even increase your risk of depression and anxiety (HelpGuide).” The longer the job search goes, the worsening physical symptoms become a catch-22.  For example, it is hard to interview well when sleep deprived. Be aware of what a job search is doing to you physically and what future employers see.  If possible, make a financial plan for the time between jobs. 

Identity and Social Stresses at Core of Job Search Depression

According to a CDC study, depression is about three times higher among the unemployed compared to the employed.  Some people even experience the stages of grief while unemployed.  Since our work is a huge part of our identity, the job search process can feel extremely personal.  “When people imagine job-search depression, they often attribute it to financial instability and frequent rejection, but it turns out that “identity is a much bigger piece of the puzzle than people had previously thought,” said Dawn R. Norris, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the author of Job Loss, Identity, and Mental Health.  Without a job title and status, some people feel lost.  Constant rejection from potential employers adds to these negative feelings.  This social rejection can feel like being the last kid picked on the playground team. 

Older workers whose experience is huge part of their identity may feel lost competing with younger, more technically-savvy candidates. ”Younger workers entering the job force have lower salary expectations due to their fewer years of experience, and have the tech competency that requires less on-the-job training” (LinkedIn). The value and seniority older workers once had may need to be remarketed.

Ways to Overcome Job Search Depression

Experts recommend several strategies to make the time job searching easier:

  • Focus on what is in your locus of control.  You control where you apply, who you network with, and how you perform in an interview.  You cannot control the final decision or timeline.
  • Set a daily schedule.  Finding a job is a job in itself.  Stay on a daily schedule and set goals for each day.  Focus on the end result and then work backwards to get there.
  • Get support from family and friends.  
  • Plan financially for the time between jobs.  Cut expenses, set a budget, and think long-term recovery.  Try not to get bogged down and only tap into 401K money as a last resort.
  • Exercise.  Being physically fit can help with anxiety and natural endorphins will help you feel better all around.
  • Stay confident.  Know your own value and stay positive. Employers hire positive candidates who can show their impact.

Use a Recruiter for Job Search Help

Recruiters like Artemis Consultants have direct contact with employers and can help shorten the timeline between jobs.  Using a recruiter also means better communication pathways to present skills and negotiate terms upon being hired.  There are many benefits of utilizing executive recruiting firms like Artemis.    

-Written exclusively for Artemis Consultants by Content Writer Mellody Melville

Newsletter Signup

Recent Articles