Most jobseekers agree: the toughest part of the search is managing the mental traffic.
When I ask jobseekers what kind of week they’ve had and follow it up with the question about “What made it good/bad/hard?” If it was “good” it was usually triggered by an event. It could have been a call from a recruiter, a scheduled interview, or a recommendation by a colleague on LinkedIn.
When it’s been a difficult week, the reasons inevitably included a trigger that caused a downward spiral to depression.
… is a first-rate executive in the healthcare service industry. She’s been job hunting for several months with very little action.
Finally she landed a Skype interview for a position that was perfect. It would require a move but she was more than willing to do so. Her family was supportive as well.
We scheduled a trial run to check lighting, makeup, dress, and where to look so it appeared she had eye contact.
The Skype interview went extremely well. The chemistry seemed dynamic from both sides.
Afterwards, Teresa wrote, “I’m beginning to believe in myself again.”
I might add that Teresa is an excellent coach and knows that she has to believe in herself to be authentic. It’s a critical hurdle.
Three days later the email came. They found someone who “more closely matched their criterion.”
… is an outstanding manager and team builder.
He has completed over six interviews with a large high-end department store chain. He’s spoken to just about everyone from the head of Human Resources to his potential manager and two people higher up in the organization.
It’s been two weeks and not a word. Roger has followed up and still—nothing. The waiting is killing him. This week he plummeted and wrote:
“…this past week has been a real struggle, my depression has been in overdrive. Too much up and down, the job search is really taxing me, I feel for all the others out there. … I continue on hoping and working to figure out how to make something happen [soon].”
*Names have been changed.
Most jobseekers get a DOUBLE WHAMMY!
When a person experiences loss, they tend to go through five stages of grieving. Psychologists have defined those five stages as the Grief Process. The five stages are:
As you can see, depression is stage four. If a jobseeker has lost their job, they can usually relate to these steps. It may be something like this:
- Denial: “This can’t be happening to me. I’ve given so much. Worked so hard.”
- Anger: “I’ve done my job well. They have no right to lay me off!
- Bargaining: “If only I had put more into that project, worked more weekends…”
- (Feelings of hopelessness, rejection, and worthlessness.)
- Acceptance: “It’s time to move on.”
Even the people that strongly disliked their job and are glad “it’s over”, tell me that they still experience grief! It’s about loss. This is a deep, ripping away of part of one’s self, one’s dignity and self-esteem. It hits at the profound core of our being.
Add that that, the repeated loss of applying for positions and getting nothing back. Going to interviews and being rejected, time after time. These events seem to reinforce the thoughts of insignificance. They give credence to reasons for self-doubt.
Is it any surprise that, in this situation, we find ourselves in a depression?
What is situational depression?
Situational depression is defined as “a short-term form of depression that can occur in the aftermath of various traumatic changes in your normal life, including divorce, retirement, loss of a job and the death of a relative or close friend. [Emphasis mine.]
What are the symptoms?
The list will probably be familiar to you if you are a jobseeker:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Sleeping difficulties
- Recurring bouts of crying and weeping
- Unfocused anxiety
- Loss of concentration
- Withdrawal from normal activities
- Withdrawal from friends and family
Dr. Marie Gronley, a psychiatrist reports that emotionally healthy people grieve over these kinds of situations and that the depression is “quite normal” under the circumstances.
How can it be treated?
The treatment found on several articles, including those sited above, were consistent. The first line of treatment included the following:
- Eat a nutritionally balanced diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Establish regular sleeping habits.
- Change your worldview.
- Discuss your situation with trusted friends and family.
- Join a support group.
- Participate in a hobby or pleasurably leisure activity.
- Take a break from all the bad news in the media.
Tips from jobseekers:
Jobseekers that I’ve worked with have added a few more to the above list.
- Remember that your family is watching. Prove to your children (even if they are grown), spouse, and others that you can handle the challenge. Demonstrate for them how to get through the adversity.
- Just live one day at a time. Plan for the future, but take it a day at a time.
When to get professional help for our situational depression:
- If you are having uncontrollable thoughts about suicide.
- If you can not manage the needs of every day living: getting up, dressing…
Tips from Marcia LaReau:
- Don’t go it alone.
- One day at a time—no more.
- Attend jobseeker support groups.
- See a qualified career counselor.
- Remember that the only people who didn’t get jobs were the ones that:
- Stopped learning and—
- Make someone else’s life better each day.
- Encourage a jobseeker.
- Help out a neighbor.
- …this list is endless.
- The next stage of the grief process is Acceptance. The load lightens.
- Knowing that this could last longer than you ever thought possible:
- Do not spend any money you will regret: even a cup of coffee.
- Take time off from your search to revitalize but be careful not to spend time doing things that you will regret.
- Do not dismiss any relationships. Not even one. These people cannot understand what you are going through and they will say stupid, inconsiderate things to you that hurt. Forgive them. Graciously teach them what would help and preserve the relationship.