Mental Health and Your Job Search

Man struggling with job search Corridor Careers

Job Search and Depression

Not every job search results in depression, but often the struggle with mental health during a job search is ignored. Research studies have shown that initially after losing a job, the experience can be quite unsettling.  After the initial shock wears off, people can find a sense of relief and freedom when they are let go or quit a job.  However, if the job hunt continues for 10 weeks or more the experience can begin to lead to anxiety and depression.1  This comes from a job seeker being rejected time after time during their job search.

(Please note, if you are experiencing serious depression, call 1-800-332-4224 to use the Foundation2 crisis chat line right away)

In Eastern Iowa, we are seeing historically low unemployment rates.  Many companies are looking for good workers, and it is definitely a job-seekers market.  However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of well-qualified individuals searching for jobs at any given time.  And many still struggle with the process of finding a job that is right for them. With this, mental health can definitely take its toll.

The American Psychiatric Association has laid out several risk factors to be on the lookout for when dealing with mental health issues of any kind:

  • Sleep or appetite changes
  • Mood changes
  • Withdrawal (loss of interest)
  • A drop in functioning (quitting)
  • Problems thinking
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Apathy
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Illogical thinking
  • Nervousness
  • Unusual behavior

Having one or multiple issues may not indicate a mental illness, but it may be a reason for further evaluation from a trained professional.  The Eastern Iowa Health Center provides services for those dealing with any type of mental health issue.  Whether it is related to job searching or other personal reasons, the EIHC can assist with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Trauma Therapy
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Psychiatry services
  • Couples counseling

Breaking Through Job Search Depression

Luckily, there are ways that you can help ease the symptoms of depression brought on by your job search if you are having trouble landing your next role.

Plan

The first thing you can do is make a plan.  Set daily goals for yourself for research, job applications, re-writing your resume or connecting with people in your network.  Set your goals the day before and stay committed to accomplishing them until they are checked off your list.  This will give you a sense of accomplishment each day, which is important to keep a positive attitude.

Exercise

Next you can carve out time in your day for personal well-being.  This is just as important as your job search activities. Take a walk, bike ride, or go to the gym.  Exercise releases endorphins, which cause your body to reduce the perception of pain.  Exercise will also increase your confidence.

Learn

Build your skillset.  Some of the best time spent during your job search can be taking online courses in something you are interested in.  Any work you do now can be added to your resume as “professional development.”  For instance, if you want to work in marketing, there are a ton of good courses out there to help you increase your marketing skills on Udemy and Teachable or for free from Google.  Need some basic credentials? Corridor Careers has resources in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa City area for you to level up your education section on your resume.

Get up Early

Simply waking up before the rest of the world can help you feel like you are winning.  Beating everyone out of bed in the morning can improve mood, confidence, and production. Check out Mel Robbins’ 5 second rule talk.

Talk to other Job Seekers

You may feel like you are the only job seeker in Eastern Iowa. Trust us, you are not alone. There are many skilled professionals and workers who for one reason or another have been looking for a job for some time.  Every 3rd Thursday of the month at IowaWorks is a workshop called ReConnect. It allows jobseekers to connect and informally visit with a panel of Employers to learn about their companies and various job opportunities. While there, you can support other job seekers by talking together about your shared struggles.

Job Seekers Learn Resiliency

Still struggling with mental health while job searching? Know that you are growing. You are on a personal journey that can result in growth. People who experience change, and adapt successfully, become resilient. Even though the world seems to be throwing a lot at you, you are surviving. And that deserves a pat on the back! At Corridor Careers, we believe in everyone’s unique talents and abilities. Keep at it.

Check out more posts about Career Advice.

1After the Pink Slip: Applying Dynamic Motivation Frameworks to the Job Search Experience, Academy of Management Journal, April 2012

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Career Advice and Iowa Workforce