Just trying to get out and about can be tough, let alone getting a job with depression and anxiety. If you feel isolated and alone, it can be hard to find the motivation to perform the most basic of tasks, so you have to do your best to break the negative cycle.
Searching for jobs when you feel low or anxious isn’t easy, but there are real solutions to the problem. We explore two job-hunting tactics in depth. Afterward, we also address self-management and therapy for anxiety and depression. This might not be directly related to job hunting, but they can make all the difference. Last, we take a look at some useful advice for anyone with depression and anxiety.
Armed with these, you’ll be able to increase the likelihood of finding the right job in no time. So, let’s get underway.
Job-Hunting Tactics for People with Depression and Anxiety
If you have social anxiety, no job hunt is going to be easy. But going back to work helps depression, anxiety and a host of other conditions. So, it’s truly worth the effort.
There are two central approaches to applying for jobs, whether you have clinical depression or not. They are two sides of the same coin: quantity versus quality. You can either send out as many resumes as you possibly can, to as many openings as you can. Or, you can spend time and effort on each and every application. The choice is yours.
1) Send Your Resume Indiscriminately
The idea here is a relatively simple one: you have to be in it to win it. If you send out as many resumes as you can, then sooner or later one of them will stick. It’s like playing the lottery, and it has many advantages.
- Pros: This approach is low-effort. All you have to do is find jobs online, find an email address and send it. For many jobs, there is no application form; all they want is your resume. For the ultimate low-effort approach, only ever send your resume through email—don’t spend time filling in forms, applying in person or anything along those lines.
- Cons: Just like playing the lottery, you’re not going to win with every ticket. Most recruiters can spot when you haven’t tailored your resume. This is a sign that you either don’t care about the job, or you’re not a fan of making an effort. That’s not a good impression. However, that won’t rule you out 100% of the time. The other negative with this approach is that it can be disheartening, sending out a dozen resumes a day and hearing nothing back.
As you can see, this method is simple but is not a guarantee of finding an employer. If you’re unable to spend an hour a day tailoring your resume for different roles, go for a scattergun approach. Just be aware that you probably won’t find a job overnight with this method.
2) Tailor Every Application
This approach is the polar opposite. It’s high-effort, but high-reward. Every time you apply for jobs online, take the time to go over your resume and edit it. It’s definitely what we recommend!
You should change it based on:
- The employer’s job description
- Common strengths necessary in a particular industry or field
- What the employer says they’re looking for (e.g., team player, charismatic sales ability, reliability or similar)
All of this information is available either online or in the job offer you’re replying to. If you mirror what the employer says they want, they will know that you’re willing to put the effort in. But this approach does have drawbacks, too. Let’s take a look.
- Pros: Because you tailor your resume, it’s far more likely to be successful. Overall, you’ll have to apply for fewer positions before you get an offer in return. If you are serious about finding a job, that’s great news. On the whole, you’ll probably spend less time unemployed if you take this approach.
- Cons: Unfortunately, this approach does take a lot of effort. If you are depressed, it’s not always possible to do this.
So, as you can see, this approach works; but is it possible for you? Only you know, so give it a go, and see if you’re happy to keep it up. Whichever tactic you pick, you can almost certainly find a job if you put the effort in.
Once you’ve received a job offer, you have to think about interviews. This is where depression and anxiety can leave a mark. Anxiety can make you feel nervous, which can lead you to make interview mistakes or leave a bad impression. Depression can mean that you don’t even feel like turning up.
That being said, it’s possible to manage the interview healthily. Even if you do feel nervous, that does not mean that you can’t ace the interview. Let’s take a look at two ways to manage anxiety and depression that can help you on the way to getting a job.
Self-managing your anxiety and depression is possible. You may not be able to reverse any effects that you feel completely. However, you can most definitely prevent it from stopping you doing what you need to do. You can also make it a far less important part of your life.
Here are four tips that you can use to take the edge off anxiety and depression, to get you through an interview:
- Breathing techniques. These aren’t just for controlling anger by calming you down. They have a physical effect, too. When you’re in fight-or-flight mode, the body’s response is to make you take shallow and fast breaths. It’s similar to what happens during a panic attack. By breathing slowly and deliberately, you take the focus off your worries, and you also physically calm your body down.
- Remind yourself that thoughts are only thoughts. With both depression and anxiety, it’s easy to let your thoughts run wild. They can put you down, assuming the worst about yourself and lowering your confidence. But when a mean or negative thought enters your head, remind yourself: it’s just a thought. By forcing yourself to think positive thoughts, you can shape both the way you feel and the way you behave. That’s the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT—more on that later.
- Be honest. You might not want to, but this tip really can help. During your interview, tell the interviewer: “Sorry if I seem nervous. Landing this job would be a great achievement!” In one go, you’re saying something like that empowers you and communicates honestly with your interviewer. They’ll also like your positive attitude.
- Write out and classify your worries. Essentially, what you do is write out your worries, and ask yourself whether your worry is something you can do anything about. If you can’t do anything about the worry, focus on other, more productive worries. If you can do something, write out what you can do about it right now. If you can do something later, write that out too. This helps you claim control of your worries and helps you combat them.
The best thing about self-management of depression and anxiety is that you can ‘perform’ it anywhere. That means you can use it any time you like, even when you’re in the interview room. The main negative is that without guidance, it isn’t always going to be effective.
Therapy is always helpful and can help you feel more comfortable searching for jobs or working. Of course, there are different kinds of therapy available, like exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Each has its merits and could help you in your search. They’re also worth looking into whether they help you find work or not. Let’s take a look.
2) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT) aims to control what you think so that you can improve on what you feel and do. Half of CBT involves talking to a therapist about what you think when you’re depressed or anxious. So, which thoughts cross your mind—worries about failure, self-doubt, anger, and disappointment?
The other half involves ‘homework.’ This involves writing exercises like diaries and using worry charts. You’ll also do certain things that would normally trigger an adverse anxious reaction, and take notes on what you think and what you feel.
Your therapist will then help you understand how these negative thoughts affect your feelings. CBT practitioners believe that negative thoughts shape patterns in both thought and feeling. So, for example, thoughts of continued self-doubt can exacerbate depression or anxiety. Allowing yourself to continually think things like “There’s no way I can do this!” leads to a physical feeling of helplessness.
- Pros: CBT is proven to be helpful with anxiety, depression and a host of other conditions. It’s widely available no matter where you live since there are plenty of therapists who operate on a CBT basis. As a treatment, it’s a healthier alternative or addition to medication.
- Cons: You have to truly commit to CBT for it to have a positive effect. It’s possible to do some of the ‘homework’ without going to therapy. But without guidance, it’s not as effective. If you do commit to CBT, it’s not an overnight treatment, either.
CBT would help you with more than just your job search. But concerning helping you to find work, it would give you the confidence you need to get through interviews.
3) Exposure Therapy
Next up, you could consider exposure therapy. Exposure therapy, these days, is considered a subset of CBT. But you can choose to go through more or less exposure therapy during CBT sessions. If you’re not sure what it is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Over time, you’re gradually exposed to whatever it is you’re afraid of. This could be snakes, spiders or social situations.
Over time, because of exposure in a safe setting, you become ‘desensitized’ to your fear. Exposure starts with something as simple as reading about what makes you feel afraid. You might then watch videos of your fear, before finally confronting it head-on in person. So, for example, your therapist might have you watch videos of awkward interviews. Eventually, they would have you go through staged and real interviews.
- Pros: Exposure therapy is an amazing tool. It’s structured, safe and simple. Since it’s considered a part of CBT, it’s also widely available.
- Cons: Exposure therapy is limited but effective. While CBT can help you more generally with social anxiety, exposure therapy is more focused. It can directly help you face and get better at interviews, which is what you wanted in the first place.
Exposure therapy could, therefore, help you directly with interview skills. It could also help you earlier on in the process when applying for jobs. All you have to do is ask your therapist for assistance with that, too. Of course, therapy is a big step, and it might not be one you’d like to take right now. There’s no problem with that. So what about more general job search tips for depressed people, that you could use right now?
Job Search Tips for Anxious and Depressed People
As we said, therapy is a big step. So aside from taking big steps, what can you do to make your job search a little easier? As it turns out, job searching has become easier than ever. That’s in no small part due to the online revolution, which has made applying to job postings simpler. Let’s take a look at some realistic, useful job search tips for depressed people.
1) Pick the Right Positions
Finding careers for people with depression and anxiety isn’t always simple. The first thing you have to consider is the balance between dreams and your bank balance. If you’ve always wanted to be a graphic designer, but you can’t find any openings, consider something else. The most important thing is to be financially secure come to the end of each month. Living comfortably can help with depression and anxiety because you won’t have to worry about debt.
That being said, it’s also important to pick a position that won’t wear you out. You need something that’s going to give you a reason to get out of bed. In other words, a meaningless office job might not cut it for you. When you’re looking at job openings, balance these two concerns and decide whether a position is right for you.
You should also think of:
- Whether a job is a comfortable social setting for you. For example, a busy sales office might not be to your taste.
- Whether a job would give you enough mental stimulation and physical activity. Sitting around in front of a computer screen all day isn’t good for depression or anxiety.
- Whether you would gain a sense of achievement from a particular job.
- Whether a position would leave you in a financially stable position.
If a job ticks each of your boxes, you’re onto a winner. Great jobs for the clinically depressed include charity work, anything that involves traveling, and anything related to your interests. These jobs give you an all-important sense of life satisfaction.
2) Use a Mix of Online and Offline
Our next tip is to send a mixture of online and offline applications. Sending impersonal applications online is quick and easy. It’s also much easier to find open positions if you look on a variety of sites. That way, you’re covering almost every base—finding every available job that you can. That can only increase your chances in the long run.
But applying in person, where possible, is more likely to land you a job. Employers like a personal touch and handing in your resume in person is exactly that. Going out of your way shows that you’re truly interested in landing a job, and employers like seeing that kind of commitment in their applicants. That’s why you’re more likely to be hired.
Even so, both applying online and applying offline can have their drawbacks. Take applying online as the first example. Filling in forms online and sending out resumes can be a tiresome and repetitive process. Not only that but if you’re unlucky, you’ll only hear back from employers relatively rarely. That means you’ll be sending out applications without hearing anything back. That can be demoralizing.
On the other hand, applying in person can be frustrating: often you’ll be turned away and told to apply online instead. But for every resume you hand in, the process becomes more worthwhile. That’s why you should use a mix of both approaches in your search, where possible.
3) Set Up Email Newsletters
Here’s a great tip that’ll help you find openings quickly and easily. Rather than spend each day scouring the net, let the jobs come to you. When you sign up for online job boards, set up a daily or weekly newsletter too. Then, they’ll send every relevant job that gets posted directly to your email address.
The best thing about setting up email newsletters is that it saves you time and effort. If you’re feeling depressed on a particular day, you might not want to spend an hour or two searching for jobs. That’s understandable. But with a newsletter, your job is suddenly a lot easier.
Most sites need to know:
- Your interests
- Your past experience
- Your qualifications
- Your preferences
And then, armed with this information, they can send you tailored reports each day or each week. Given that it only takes a minute to set up a weekly newsletter, you’re saving a lot of time.
4) Have Three Resumes
Remember above, where we said that tailored resumes are the most likely to land you a job? That’s still true. But the world isn’t black and white. If you have three resumes in your back pocket, you’re still miles ahead of the curve. Let’s say you’ve worked in sales, you studied history at university, and you’ve previously worked in management. You should have three resumes, one for each relevant field.
So, for example:
- Your first resume would be sales based. In it, you would talk in depth about your experience in sales. Perhaps you worked in a call center. You could emphasize how you’re persuasive, friendly and forward—and that you were regularly the top seller in your team.
- Your second resume would focus on your qualifications. If you studied history and wanted to work in a museum, for example, you should tailor your resume to reflect that. Highlight how enthusiastic you are to learn new things, and how well you did in your course.
- Your third resume should focus on your management experience. You can talk about the team you managed, what you achieved, and how.
Now, the point of having three resumes is that you’re making a compromise between effort and quality. You aren’t committed to editing your resume for each and every application. It might be a good idea, but it takes lots of time. By drafting three resumes, you give yourself most of the benefits of tailoring your applications, with far less effort.
Looking for a career for depressed and anxious people is no easy task. But it’s one that can be achieved in small steps, one by one. Make a start by applying for just one job, and go from there.
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