Job searches often start off with a burst of optimism. You think back to the way you got your first couple of jobs and figure you’ll fall into something fairly quickly. You pull up LinkedIn and send messages to an endless list of contacts. But, to your dismay, no one seems to have anything available in your field or at your level. Everyone is friendly but, you come up empty handed. Now what?
To say that the US job seeking system (if you can call it a system) is confusing and frustrating is an understatement! It often can make you feel devalued and discarded by society for weeks, months, and sometimes years. Your anger and despair are justified and understandable. But, you must take steps to combat this response. You need to plot out what your action plan will be, and how you’ll move on regardless of your current state of mind.
But, what if you are too blue to do the research and self-exploration that would put you on the right path?
Here are some tips for discouraged job seekers:
• Remember that you have the power to change your attitude and your perspective. Focus on the aspects of your life that are stable and positive. Make a list of what you are grateful for and add to it every day.
• Spend time learning to think about yourself in a new way. Make this a time of spiritual and philosophical renewal.
• Ask for and receive help from others. Do not spend too much time alone. Seek the assistance of a qualified therapist if your depression feels very deep and does not seem to be getting better.
• Contribute a few hours each week making your community a better place. Helping others tends to lift your spirits.
• Try some new job hunting behaviors and methods. Often job seekers get in a rut and only use one or two avenues to access opportunities. You should be using at least seven different strategies. Strategies might include: developing contacts in your target industry, executive recruiting firms, internal company vacancy listings, your college alumni office and the Alumni Directory, professional associations in your target industry, Internet job sites, want ads, direct mailing, or temporary employment, among others!
• Get enough sleep (studies show that sleep deprivation contributes to depression), eat good food and exercise. Basically, remember everything your mother told you about staying healthy and taking good care of yourself.
Feeling alone and not knowing how to solve your job search dilemmas will likely cause you the most discouragement. Ultimately, getting weekly support and job search training from a qualified Career Coach may be the best way to shorten your search and reduce your job hunting blues. Staying in good spirits may seem like a challenge in itself, but mastering some optimism will help keep you on the right path, no matter how far you have to go.
[Author’s note: while mild depression may be overcome through lifestyle changes, depression is a serious illness and should not go untreated. If you or someone you know is facing depression – employment related or otherwise – please talk to a therapist or doctor to see what options are available.]
Resources: Books on Careers and Overcoming the Blues
Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You by Richard O’Connor
I Could Do Anything if I Only Knew What it Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It by Barbara Sher
Happiness Is a Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman
Managing Transitions, Making the Most of Change by William Bridges