I spend a lot of time with people who are “between jobs.”

They may have been looking for work for a couple of weeks or in some cases, well over a year.

People in this situation (especially men) are extremely vulnerable to depression as they:

  • Deal with the loss of identity from not having a steady job,
  • Deal with the constant rejections from potential employers,
  • Struggle to find a reason to get up in the morning,
  • Tighten the belt financially,
  • Live with the regrets of decisions that have led them to this point,
  • Lose hope and wonder if anyone will ever give them a chance.

In the Resume Writing and Career Services Business that Karen and I operate, we are passionate about helping people in these situations to find meaningful work, but in the mean-time, there are some strategies that can help you to deal with depression when you’re unemployed and looking for a job.

Don’t isolate yourself.  One of the easiest traps that people fall into when they’re unemployed is to spend less time with others.  This can be due to embarrassment about their situation or not wanting to give the impression that they’re not being industrious about looking for work, but whatever the case is, it’s extremely important to maintain contact with a positive group of peers.

Besides being able to share your challenges with others, spending time with people can give you a network that can help you to find the job that you’re after.

So keep going to church, join a sporting club or gym, stay connected to your friends and start accepting those invitations that you get.

Volunteer your time.  I’ve seen quite a few people who were unemployed for a long time volunteer once or twice a week in the community and it made a significant difference to their mindsets.

It got them out of the house, broke up the tedium of the week, helped them to feel useful again and gave them a different perspective as they assisted people who were worse off than them.

Build your skills.  One of the other advantages of volunteering is that it can give you the opportunity to develop new skills.  Of course, this isn’t the only way to do this.  Study a short course, read great books and blogs or start working on a project by yourself that can hone the skills that will be of assistance to you in the long-term.

Learning and growing is great for your mindset, giving you a greater sense of control over your future that can be difficult to maintain during periods of long-term unemployment.

Keep applying for jobs.  Don’t fall for the trap that because you’ve been rejected on multiple occasions that you will never be given a chance.  As I’ve said before, the only guarantee in job hunting is that if you don’t apply for a job, you won’t get it.

I’ve spoken with a lot of clients lately who tell me that they are not applying for as many roles as they could because they don’t meet every criteria on the job advertisement.  If that’s you, let me encourage you to apply any way.  You’re not in control of what recruiters are looking for, so don’t say no for them, if it’s a role that you are interested in and you think you can do it, send in your application and see what happens.

Look after yourself physically.  People who are in the throes of depression find it a challenge to exercise and eat right, but this is a dangerous trap.

Continuing to maintain a consistent exercise regime, eating healthily, maintaining a high standard of personal hygiene and dressing smartly has a dual effect:

  1. It helps you to feel happier and more confident.
  2. It makes you more attractive to potential employers, not because you look better (although that doesn’t hurt), but because you feel more positive about yourself.

I know that it’s difficult to maintain a positive mindset when you’ve been unemployed for a long period of time, but I hope that at least one of these strategies is helpful to anyone who finds themselves in that situation.

I also understand that depression is a serious issue that requires professional assistance sometimes, so please make sure that you get the help that you need if you are exhibiting symptoms of depression.

Do you have any tips that would be of assistance to someone who’s struggling with depression while they’re job hunting?

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