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November 3, 2021
Searching for a new role can take weeks (let’s be honest, it’s more like months) and during that time, you’ll go on an emotional roller coaster. From the initial nerves when you submit your resume to the waves of elation when a recruiter reaches out and the depression that comes when you’re told you weren’t [insert rejection here] for the role, it’s a total nightmare. And the worst part? You can’t avoid it. You literally have to make it through if you want a source of income to depend on. No added pressure there!
Job search depression is real and it can take a toll on you physically, mentally and emotionally. It can also spiral out of control and leave you doubting yourself and your abilities. According to the Pew Research Center, about half of US adults who are looking for a job are pessimistic about their prospects for future employment and experience various symptoms of job search depression:
I’ve been through this process myself and know how debilitating it can be. To help you through your own struggles, I’m sharing 5 tips that have help me deal with and overcome job search depression.
Whether you get rejected off the bat by an insultingly generic ‘Thanks for applying’ email or at the end of your fifth round of team interviews, job rejections still sting all the same. No one likes to be turned down and it can feel like a slap in the face when you KNOW you’re the perfect fit for the role.
There are bigger factors that determine the outcome than how you formatted your resume or your answer to ‘What’s your greatest weakness?’
There are also a dozen more reasons that I’m not going to get into because they all lead to the same realization: when a role is meant to be yours, it will be. There are so many moving pieces behind the scenes that it’s nearly impossible to hone in on the one thing that led to your rejection.
The faster you let go of the illusion that you control the process or that it is solely about you, the faster you can get over the ‘loss’ of a job that was never meant to be yours in the first place. Then you can focus your energy on landing a job that is meant for you!
When you’re down in the dumps over your job search and feeling like a total failure, the best thing you can do is share your frustration with a friend or colleague. I know opening up and revealing your rejection can be terrifying, but it’s actually one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Not only will talking about it help you process what just happened, you’ll also have the chance to get positive feedback (and a little ego boost!) from someone who genuinely cares about your well-being. They’ll be there to remind you that you aren’t a failure, call out the unique skills that have gotten you this far and boost your confidence so you can keep trying.
We’ve all experienced job rejections and when you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to let someone in, you can bond through shared trials and maybe even learn a thing or two from each other throughout the process.
No one lands a role on their first try. If they do, it’s either because they know someone on the hiring team, they went to an elite university that has a contract with the company or they performed a magic spell that they learned at Hogwarts.
Job hunting has become extremely competitive, especially during Covid-19, and job seekers are submitting dozens of resumes (if not more) to get an interview. In my personal experience, it took over 50 interviews for me to finally land a role at Facebook, so the takeaway here is that more rejection is actually BETTER for you.
Each job rejection brings you one step closer to your dream role and is an indicator that you are on the right path. It may not feel like it in the moment, but trust me, you’ll look back and realize how helpful each one was because you learned more about the process.
A great trick to keep from getting discouraged is to identify how many applications it takes to land an interview. Then, give yourself a target to hit before you allow yourself to pause and reflect (and if you’re like me, cry just a little bit between sips of a good Riesling). For example, say that number is 20 interviews. Work backwards and calculate the number of applications it took to land 1 interview. If it was 10, that’s a 10:1 ratio, meaning that you’ll need to send out 200 applications before you allow yourself to stop and have a pity party. This process helps you focus on a goal and not wallow in despair every time a no comes your way. Even though it’s not the ideal outcome, you’re still able to focus and keep momentum going.
I know my last 3 tips haven’t had to do with your job search performance, but the truth is that there ARE things you can do to help yourself improve so you can minimize your job search depression. The definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome, so I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I didn’t give you some advice to help you improve the process. Here is the actionable takeaway for you:
Assess yourself along each step of this process and identify which one(s) is (are) holding you back. As you keep job searching, narrow down the type of role you want and be specific — that will give you clarity in your resume and LinkedIn profile. Then, write down your top 4-5 accomplishments as they relate to that role and hone your story so you can clearly convey what happened, how you approached the problem and the results.
Need help with any of this? Feel free to book a free discovery call with me. Storytelling for job seekers is my specialty and I’ll work with you so you can land your dream role.
I have nothing else to say because the truth is you can’t stop even if it hurts. If you do, you won’t get a job, which isn’t an option. Need to take a break? That’s fine! Sometimes a pause helps reset your mind and gives you renewed energy when you come back. The important part is to keep going!
Throughout this blog, I’ve highlighted a few different reasons to explain why you got rejected, how to deal with that rejection and given you tips for improving so it can happen less often. But even when it does, it’s important to stay positive. Nothing can prevent you from getting your dream role except yourself. If you get 100 rejections but apply 101 times, it could be that last ditch effort that FINALLY gets you past the finish line. But if you stop at 100, you’ll never make it.
Your decision to give up is the only thing that will hold you back from future success. That’s why it’s critical to be resilient and see every rejection as an opportunity to learn and improve. Failure is life’s way of helping you learn and grow so you can become a stronger person. Success and rejection are lifelong companions that are interconnected and impossible to separate.
Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t let the depression prevent you from continuing to try – that is an even worse fate. In the words of Winston Churchill:
So while a job rejection might seem like the end of the world, remind yourself that it’s actually an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the process in disguise. This knowledge will give you the tools you need to improve for the future, and maybe even gain some more compassion and respect for what you’re going through in the present.