Dealing with Depression During the Job Search
I know what you are thinking – all this talk about an improving economy and yet you don’t have a job yet. They are saying America is doing better, but then you read about the significant cuts that are being made in New York. What’s this furlough nonsense and why does it not sound good for my job prospects? And don’t get started on Greece…if that economy falters any more, can America truly be out of harm’s way? These are great questions, but dwelling on them will only hurt your job search.
When I first became unemployed, I seriously thought that I would get a job within a month’s time. And I thought that I had the secret key to job search success. I would just treat my job search like a job (who else had thought of such a unique concept). I woke up at 7 a.m. and worked until 5 p.m., sometimes later, with hopes of securing a position somewhere…anywhere.
I got off to a good start. I had a notebook filled with every single job I applied to. I tailored cover letters and resumes. I made follow-up calls, even though they often didn’t work on the initial attempts because HR staffs were also cut during the recession. (You should still make them, though.)
But then, after a month went by, I started getting up a little later. I started enjoying The View (women arguing over politics…genius!). I started getting a little angry. I started making mistakes, like sending the wrong cover letters out and applying to jobs without sending the writing samples I had promised in the email. I wasn’t getting job interviews. Jobs that I felt I was destined to get went to someone else. There is nothing more disheartening than getting a letter telling you that you weren’t even good enough for one interview for a job you seemed destined for. It was a brutal period that I’ve only touched upon in previous blog posts. I was depressed and needed to snap out of it or else I was never going to get a job.
Realizing that I needed to make some moves, I changed my job search a bit and began reaching out to contacts for freelance work, which kept me busy and provided me with a little extra money. But I made some other changes. I played hooky from the job search at times and did other creative things that allowed me to stay sane. First, at my girlfriend’s request, I went to Home Depot and Ikea and inexpensively redesigned our living room, which allowed me to be artistic and create a new space in which to perform my job search. Newness makes me happy and is refreshing. This was a fun step that recharged the batteries.
Second, I started taking care of myself again. Yes, the 99-cent menu at Burger King fit my budget, but it also made me unable to fit my clothes, so I began a workout routine again that kept me in shape and energized me for a day of sending out resumes and heading out to job interviews. Looking unhealthy adds to the depression, but looking fit gives you the confidence you need to conquer the world.
I also reacquainted myself with my Xbox. I spent four hours sending out a resume and then took a break – playing MLB 2K10, and I had a blast. It was fun and it broke up the monotony of the day. Plus, while I was losing at the job search, I was winning in the game, and in a weird way, that lifted my spirits. Everyone needs a boost. Sometimes, I would take walks outside, meet some friends and play a little basketball and at least one day, I didn’t look for a job at all and just lounged and pampered myself with rest and de-stress.
I eventually found a job. It took me time and it certainly wasn’t roses and sunshine along the way, but if we allow ourselves to get caught up in the news or the stress and if we allow our egos to get in the way, the jobs won’t come. Sometimes, just like when you’re looking for a date, you need to let go a bit, have fun, relax and live life, before you actually get what you are looking for.