Steps To Take When You're Depressed and Can't Find A Job (2023)

For those of us struggling with depression or any of its variants, the simple act of waking up every day can feel like a major accomplishment.

Whether unemployment is causing your depression, or depression is an obstacle in your job search, it’s hard to get the right momentum to successfully find a job.

And now, in a COVID-ravaged world, you may be depressed, anxious, coping with unprecedented uncertainty, and recently unemployed with no idea how to support yourself.

It feels overwhelming, but you’re not powerless. In this article, we’ll break down steps you can take to find a job–from getting into the right routine, to interview prep, to continuing in the face of rejection.

How do I job search when I’m depressed and unemployed?

Unemployment and depression go hand in hand with each other. In a study published by the CDC, around 20% of the unemployed young adults sampled suffered from some form of depression.

And it’s easy to see why this occurs. Trying to find a job while depressed feels extra draining, and can magnify your current symptoms like sadness, apathy, feelings of worthlessness, and mental fatigue.

With all your free time, you may start to question your worth, your interests, or your purpose. Unemployment might even send you into an existential crisis. And in turn, being depressed can make it harder to find motivation to look for jobs.

Set yourself up for success: take care of yourself

Finding motivation can be one of the hardest parts of the job search. Yes, you need a job, but fear of failure, lack of self esteem, and depression itself all suck away your will to get out there. Luckily, you can take a few self-care measures to set yourself up for success.

(Video) How to Deal With Job-Search Depression

Avoid anxiety: get prepared

Spend time preparing for each stage of the job process. If you’re prepared, you’ll feel less depressed and anxious about finding a job and more confident in your prospects! You’ll also free up some space in your brain, which always helps.

Prepare your documents: If you haven’t already, go over your resume and update it. Don’t be afraid to show it to a friend and ask them their thoughts on it as well. The same goes for a cover letter.

While not all jobs require one, it’s always good to have a basic cover letter template on hand that you can adjust for every job you apply for. Both documents provide a brief snapshot of your skill-set, as well as of how you present yourself, so it’s important to continually refine them as you try to find a job.

Interview questions: Even if you haven’t reached this stage of the job process yet, it’s important to make a list of some common questions that most interviewers ask. Make a list of these questions and write out your answers to them. Focus on authenticity and self-awareness in your responses.

Keep in mind, interview questions can still be hard to plan for. Every interviewer is different and may ask something you don’t expect, and that’s okay! Planning for the most common questions is still helpful, and it will help you feel more confident. Finding a job while depressed requires as many confidence-padding techniques as possible.

Questions for your interviewer: After most interviews, you’ll get an opportunity to ask your interviewer questions. Don’t squander this opportunity, as it’s a great way to get an idea of how things run at the workplace. This is a chance to learn if this job really is a fit for you.

Write down a list of basic questions you want to ask after every interview, and base some of them on what’s important to you.

While ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ still holds true in the job search, knowing your worth–and what you need to be happy and productive–shows confidence and forethought that employers appreciate. Interviews are a two way conversation, and asking questions shows your genuine interest in the position.

(Video) Are you depressed or just sad? Here's how to tell

Start a do-able routine

Creating and maintaining a routine adds some stability to your life, which will show in the job search process. A solid routine also gives you something to focus your time and energy on during the boredom of unemployment, and makes you feel better about who you are. Win, win, win!

Plan out a basic idea of how you want each day to go. Think of when to wake up, where you’ll look for jobs, how you’ll approach applications, and what skills can use some improvement (like public speaking or organizational skills).

Don’t be afraid to start slowly, with something like one or two applications or a few tasks a week until you feel comfortable. If you push too hard, you’ll burn out before you’ve found a job, and you’ll get stuck even further in your unemployment depression.

The basic idea is to start a routine you can stick with, and over time it will take next to no effort at all. Then, you can expand the number and intensity of things you focus on.

You can and should tailor your routine to how you function best and what makes you feel comfortable. So this requires a little introspection.

Do you get cranky if you skip breakfast? Do you think better when you have downtime in the morning? What time of the day do you feel most motivated? Take your list of daily to-dos, and fit them to your ideal structure.

Potential steps to include on your daily to-do list:

  • Save jobs from job sites while drinking morning coffee.
  • Complete 2 applications, and individualize resume and cover letter for each one.
  • Spend 1 hour tying up loose ends from yesterday’s applications.
  • Stretch for 5 minutes between emails.
  • Take a walk to get some snacks.
  • Follow up on applications completed two weeks ago, either by email or by phone.
  • Rehearse practice interview questions and responses. (This can also help you get a better idea of who you are, boosting your self confidence!)
  • Research part time and volunteer options as backup plans.
  • Talk to a friend or understanding peer about all you’ve accomplished today, so you don’t fall victim to imposter syndrome.

Stay motivated through rejection

Getting motivation to start job searching is hard, and it’s just as hard to stay motivated. Some days just feel hopeless.

Perhaps you’ve had a string of rejections or there’s a lack of open positions in your area. That’s completely normal, and there are a few things to keep in mind to keep your spirits up.

(Video) The one factor causing depression and anxiety in the workplace | Johann Hari | Big Think

Focus on improvement

When you’re depressed and can’t find a job, something may fall through, and you think, “Was it something I did wrong?”

Nobody is perfect, but we’re blessed with the opportunity to grow from our mistakes — adopting a “growth mindset” will help you embrace and improve from errors.

Do you think you have trouble speaking during interviews? What about job-specific skills you could have more experience with? Make a note of where you think you might have weaknesses and do your best to remedy them.

Take classes at a local community college, online classes, or practice with friends and ask them what some of your weaknesses are. In time, you’ll shore up these weaknesses and become a stronger candidate overall.

Make productive backup plans

When you’re depressed and not finding success in your job search, you’ll want to make plans that maximize the value of your downtime. Perhaps you’re not finding the full time job you want — that doesn’t mean you have sit at home and wait for an employer’s call.

Use the downtime to get extra experience, build resume-boosting skills, or just to support yourself — so you don’t experience financial anxiety on top of everything else.

Part time vs. volunteer positions

Assess what your own needs are at the moment and what resources are available to you. Do you need money right now? Are you willing to volunteer? What about further education?

Finding a part time job or a volunteer position can be helpful in your job search. Part time jobs can help mainly with finances and may help you get experience; volunteer positions can be fantastic experience-builders and gateways to paid positions later down the road.

(Video) 3 Simple Tips for Working with Depression

In addition, each of these options can help take your mind away from your negative feelings and give you something else to put time and energy into. We all have a need for ‘occupational wellness,’ or a feeling of “personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from one’s work.” Fulfilling this need will help you avoid an unemployment-related existential crisis.

Remember: it’s not your fault

Everyone goes through bouts of unemployment in life.

There are a million and one factors that go into finding and keeping a job. You can be the perfect candidate on paper, but maybe you don’t have that much chemistry with the team. Or maybe you wake up one day ready to find a job, but there’s a drought of openings in your area.

These things happen, and it’s not always your fault. The most you can do is not take it too hard, and remember to try your best for the next time. There is always going to be a next time, and if you give up, you miss out on that chance!

Job searching can be a game of chance and numbers, where you have to keep trying to find success. As Michael Caine’s character in Interstellar said, “it only has to work once.”

A healthy support network can help keep you motivated and help you sort out your priorities. We encourage you to take advantage of the support available right here, right now.

If you want to talk with other people struggling to find a job while depressed, visit Supportiv‘s instant, anonymous chat. Hit Chat Now, enter your main thoughts, and you’ll get connected with others who get it.

Written By: Anthony TovesMarch 29, 2021

(Video) 5 Signs Someone's Depression Calls for Inpatient Care


What is a good job for someone with anxiety and depression? ›

So we've taken the pressure off your job search by rounding up the 5 best jobs for people living with depression and/or anxiety.
  • 1: Librarian. ...
  • 2: Gardener & Landscaper. ...
  • 3: Data Entry. ...
  • 4: Courier/Delivery Driver. ...
  • 5: Be your own Boss.
Mar 17, 2021

Does having depression affect getting a job? ›

You are not required to disclose your mental health struggles to prospective employers. In fact, the Americans With Disabilities Act considers clinical depression a protected disability, which means you can't legally be discriminated against because of your depression.

How do I not get depressed when looking for a job? ›

How to Beat Job Hunting Depression
  1. Step 1: Don't Let the Job Search or Rejection Define You. ...
  2. Step 2: Take an Organized Approach to Your Job Search. ...
  3. Step 3: Focus on What You Can Control. ...
  4. Step 4: Expand Your Skills or Add Some New Ones. ...
  5. Step 5: Stay Social. ...
  6. Step 6: Change Where You Look for Jobs.

What to do when you are sad at your job? ›

How is Work Depression Treated
  1. Go for a quick walk, even if it's just indoors.
  2. Take a mental health day.
  3. Practice a few minutes of mindfulness meditation.
  4. Incorporate deep breathing exercises into your day.
  5. Say no to one small thing that allows you to experience less stress during the day.
  6. Watch a funny video.
Jan 4, 2022

What jobs are good for people with severe depression? ›

20 Jobs for People with Depression
  • Gardening. Horticulture offers a wide range of careers in garden centres, greenhouses, professional landscaping firms and botanical gardens. ...
  • Food Delivery. ...
  • Tutoring. ...
  • Freelancing. ...
  • Merchandising. ...
  • Postal Service. ...
  • Florist. ...
  • Dog-Walking.

What are the best jobs for people with mental illness? ›

Jobs that offer autonomy and flexibility, like freelance writing or virtual assistant work, may be particularly beneficial for people with depression. Jobs that involve working from home in general be ideal as they often allow individuals to avoid the stress of a traditional office.

What to do if you can't work because of mental health? ›

If you are unable to work due to a mental illness, you should consider applying for Social Security Disability Benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at your case individually to determine if your condition is severe enough to qualify for benefits.

Can you claim disability for depression? ›

If you've been diagnosed with depression and you expect that you won't be able to work for at least a year because of depression, you can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits.

Will I lose my job if I have mental health issues? ›

The Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA) protects employees from discrimination based on a disability—including mental health conditions like depression or anxiety.

Why is job searching so exhausting? ›

The job-hunting process is emotional and comes with plenty of ups (great interviews) and downs (losing a job to another candidate). Even landing a new job may lead to stress over setting your current team members up for success, offboarding, and then onboarding in a new company.

What is job search burnout? ›

Signs of job search burnout include: Feeling overwhelmed or stressed by simple tasks. The thought of sending out another resume is overwhelming. Poor health. This can be physical health or mental health, but poor health can be a sign of job search burnout.

Why is job searching so stressful? ›

Many job seekers experience anxiety, or a state of dread and unease, as they work toward securing a new job. This can be caused by a series of things, including the rejection that comes with applying, the uncertainty of the future, and the stress associated with interviewing.

What is quiet quitting job? ›

Quiet quitting doesn't actually refer to quitting a job—it means completing one's minimum work requirements without going above and beyond or bringing work home after hours.

What does burnout look like? ›

Being burned out means feeling empty and mentally exhausted, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don't see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress feels like you're drowning in responsibilities, burnout is a sense of being all dried up.

What jobs have the lowest rate of depression? ›

That could explain why professions such as heavy construction employees (7.54%), miners (7.13%), and recreation workers (6.87%) have much lower rates of reported depression.

How to make money with severe mental illness? ›

You can still find ways to earn income while depressed by doing any of the following:
  1. Selling some of your belongings.
  2. Selling crafts on Etsy.
  3. Becoming a freelancer.
  4. Becoming a driver.
  5. Getting websites to pay you.
  6. Becoming a pet sitter.
  7. Participating in studies.
Oct 22, 2019

Why do I feel like I can't get a job? ›

Feeling hopeless about your job search can stem from applying for jobs that aren't right for you. You might not have the right skills for the job you're applying for. Or maybe you're just not the right fit for the company. Remember that the company you're applying for has many factors to consider.

How do you break into mental health? ›

Take the National Counselor Examination (or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination); Get field experience; Get licensed by your state; Continue your education to stay certified.

Does working help mental health? ›

For people with mental health conditions, decent work can contribute to recovery and inclusion, improve confidence and social functioning.

What to do if I can't work anymore? ›

You may qualify for Social Security disability if you can't work any full-time job on a regular basis. If you don't have a medical condition that qualifies you for immediate approval of disability benefits (called a "listing"), you'll need to prove that you can't work anymore.

How long should you stay off work with depression? ›

So how long can you be signed off with depression? For as long as you need to get better. Some employees may need to take time off for treatment while others could just require a couple of days away from work. It's possible to return to work before a fit note runs out.

What happens if you can't work due to anxiety? ›

If you are disabled because of anxiety that prevents you from working, you may very well be entitled to Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.

What is the most approved disability? ›

What Is the Most Approved Disability? Arthritis and other musculoskeletal system disabilities make up the most commonly approved conditions for social security disability benefits. This is because arthritis is so common. In the United States, over 58 million people suffer from arthritis.

How long does it take to get SSI for depression? ›

It generally takes 3 to 5 months to receive a decision.

At what point does depression become a disability? ›

Depression is considered a disability when it prevents you from engaging or completing daily activities and tasks. These types of depression may qualify you for a disability claim if you meet specific requirements: clinical depression. persistent depressive disorder.

Should I disclose my mental illness to my employer? ›

According to the ADA, employers can't require applicants or employees to disclose a disability (with a few exceptions described below). So, in most cases, disclosing a psychiatric disability is a choice, not a requirement.

How do you tell your boss you're struggling mentally? ›

Here are some things to keep in mind when (and if) you feel ready to have this conversation.
  1. Understand what you're disclosing. ...
  2. Think about your “why.” ...
  3. Know your rights. ...
  4. Prepare to share your experience. ...
  5. Tell your manager what you need. ...
  6. Reinforce helpful behaviors.
Sep 7, 2021

What jobs are good for bipolar? ›

Best jobs for people with bipolar disorder
  • librarian or library assistant.
  • archivist.
  • museum or gallery curator.
  • gardener or landscaper.
  • yoga or meditation teacher.
  • massage or spa therapist.
  • researcher.
  • tutor.
Mar 31, 2022

Why is nobody hiring 2023? ›

Why is quiet hiring a 2023 trend? The current economic uncertainty is one reason why quiet hiring is a current trend, as companies may be more likely to slow down hiring, according to McRae. Another reason, she explained, is a widespread talent shortage.

How long should I spend job searching? ›

Devote four to six hours per day on weekends to the job search and application process. During the week, spend an hour each day—before work, on your lunch break or in the evening—checking emails, following up with hiring managers and networking.

What is the best day to job search? ›

Best days for job searches

According to one study cited by ABC News, Mondays are the best day of the week to apply for a job — candidates who applied on this day were most likely to move forward in the hiring process. Just as notably, the study found that Saturdays are the worst day to apply for jobs.

How do you stay positive when unemployed? ›

Here are a few ideas to keep busy during long-term unemployment:
  1. Sell some old belongings or clothes online or at a car boot sale. ...
  2. Get a part-time job or find some work experience. ...
  3. Volunteering is a great way to spend your spare time, boost your CV, help others and feel better about yourself.
Mar 25, 2022

How do I feel better when unemployed? ›

Acknowledging your feelings and challenging your negative thoughts, on the other hand, will help you deal with the loss and move on.
  1. Give yourself time to adjust. ...
  2. Write about your feelings. ...
  3. Accept reality. ...
  4. Avoid beating yourself up. ...
  5. Think of your job loss as a temporary setback. ...
  6. Look for any silver lining.
Feb 28, 2023

How do I not stress about not finding a job? ›

No matter your job search scenario, you can overcome job search anxiety and find your path to success by following a few suggestions.
  1. Maintain Your Perspective. ...
  2. Stay Positive. ...
  3. Make a Plan. ...
  4. Do Some Homework. ...
  5. Remind Yourself It's a Process. ...
  6. Give Yourself a Pep Talk. ...
  7. Savor Your Wins. ...
  8. Decide What Has to be Done—and What Doesn't.

Why does my job search feel hopeless? ›

When the job search starts to feel hopeless, take a day off to do some self-reflection. Think about what you've done so far and whether it's time to go in a new direction. Feeling discouraged will not help you land a job, but feeling optimistic and excited about the future will!

How do I get a job with anxiety? ›

Managing your anxiety during interviews
  1. Practice positive self talk. ...
  2. Picture yourself in the interview being cool, calm and collected.
  3. Focus on what you can control. ...
  4. Live in the present. ...
  5. Try and get a good night's sleep before the interview.
  6. Once it's all over, treat yourself to something nice.
Sep 10, 2020

How do I get rid of career anxiety? ›

14 Tips To Overcome Anxiety
  1. Examine the cause. If you believe your anxiety is job-related, try to identify the source. ...
  2. Make a plan. ...
  3. Take care of yourself. ...
  4. Talk to others. ...
  5. Celebrate accomplishments. ...
  6. Understand your emotions and triggers. ...
  7. Keep a journal. ...
  8. Consider what you can control.
Sep 27, 2022

What is considered a job hopper? ›

Job hopping refers to the practice of holding multiple jobs in a relatively short time. Frequent job changes, once seen as a cause for concern on resumes, have become more common in today's workforce.

How do you know it's time to quit? ›

Here are a few signs to look for to confirm that it's time to move on to a new opportunity:
  • You want room to grow. ...
  • You're experiencing problems with a supervisor or boss. ...
  • You feel undervalued. ...
  • You feel unmotivated. ...
  • You notice a high turnover rate. ...
  • Talk with your supervisor. ...
  • Identify your ideal job.
Feb 21, 2023

What is rage applying? ›

What is rage applying? The phrase “rage applying,” took off on TikTok to describe what some workers have been doing when feeling miserable or overlooked in their jobs.

What are the five stages of burnout? ›

Let's break down each stage, so that you can identify the signs of burnout within yourself and halt the downward spiral before it gets out of control.
  • Stage 1: Excessive ambition. ...
  • Stage 2: Working harder. ...
  • Stage 3: Neglecting your needs. ...
  • Stage 4: Displacing problems. ...
  • Stage 5: Revision of values.
Feb 21, 2023

What are the 4 stages leading to burnout? ›

World Health Organization as a phenomenon caused by chronic stress at work, and cites four key indicating signs: Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; mental distancing from a job; feeling of negativity or cynicism towards professional duties; and a decrease in work efficacy.

What are the 4 stages of burnout? ›

The book identifies the four stages of burnout (disillusionment) as enthusiasm, stagnation, frustration, and apathy.

What do you do when you feel like you have no future? ›

These 10 steps will inspire you and give you the boost of hope that you need to keep going when you're feeling hopeless about the future.
  1. Take a Step Back. ...
  2. Revisit Your Vision and Goals. ...
  3. Manage Your Expectations. ...
  4. Have a Contingency Plan. ...
  5. Find Sources of Positive Reinforcement. ...
  6. Have a Strong Circle of Support.
Dec 2, 2021

What to do when you realize life has no meaning? ›

What to do When you Feel Your Life Has No Meaning
  • Get curious. Ask yourself: “Why do I think life is not worth it?”, or “Why do I think I am hopeless and add no value to the world?”. ...
  • Is it something you can change? ...
  • Think of it as an opportunity to design the new you! ...
  • Decide who the new you is going to be. ...
  • Ask for help.

What are the 3 things you need in life? ›

The Three Things We All Need for a Happy Life
  • Someone to love.
  • Something to do.
  • Something to look forward to.

What jobs are best for people with anxiety? ›

20 More Jobs for People with Anxiety Disorders
  • Freelance writer.
  • Social media specialist.
  • Electrician.
  • Factory worker.
  • Photographer.
  • Massage therapist.
  • Video editor.
  • Plumber.

How can I make money with severe anxiety? ›

  1. Writer. Writing is a dream job for many. ...
  2. Artist. An artist is another job that might be appealing if you live with social anxiety. ...
  3. Animal Care or Training. ...
  4. Accountant. ...
  5. Landscaper. ...
  6. Entrepreneur. ...
  7. Computer Programmer. ...
  8. Counselor.
Mar 31, 2023

Can you get disability for anxiety? ›

Is anxiety a disability? Yes, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers anxiety as a disability. However, people with anxiety may find it challenging to prove that their condition qualifies them for monthly disability benefits.

How do you work with severe anxiety? ›

Managing Anxiety at Work
  1. Plan ahead. ...
  2. Break each task down into manageable chunks. ...
  3. Give yourself realistic deadlines. ...
  4. Ask for help. ...
  5. Accept that you will experience some anxiety. ...
  6. Take good care of yourself. ...
  7. Contact your GP or a mental health doctor. ...
  8. Think about your past jobs to help you plan for the future.

What is a good job for someone who doesn t know what to do? ›

8 Jobs for People Who Don't Know What to Do
  • Home Health Aide. Average Annual Salary: $24,000. ...
  • Police Officer. Average Annual Salary: $47,000. ...
  • Physical Therapist. Average Annual Salary: $69,000. ...
  • Pharmacist. Average Annual Salary: $119,000. ...
  • Dietician. ...
  • Army Infantryman. ...
  • Genetic Counselor. ...
  • Real Estate Agent.
Sep 5, 2022

What is the least stressful job? ›

37 Best Low-Stress Jobs To Keep You Calm At Work (2023)
  1. Massage Therapist. Average Annual Salary: $43,000. ...
  2. Orthotist or Prosthetist. Average Annual Salary: $73,000. ...
  3. Technical Writer. Average Annual Salary: $78,500. ...
  4. Librarian. Average Annual Salary: $60,800. ...
  5. Astronomer. ...
  6. Genetic Counselor. ...
  7. Geoscientist. ...
  8. Cartographer.
Jan 4, 2023

What jobs are good for people with extreme social anxiety? ›

9 Ideal Jobs for People with Social Anxiety
  • Editor. If you're a detail-oriented person and you're looking for a job that allows you to use your creativity, then editing might be the perfect fit for you. ...
  • Freelance Writer. ...
  • Graphic Designer. ...
  • Web Designer. ...
  • Data Entry Specialist. ...
  • Accountant. ...
  • Animal Care or Training. ...
  • Horticulturist.

Can social anxiety stop you from working? ›

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) can interfere with employment. Attending school, college, or university, going on job interviews, and performing in a work environment can be difficult if you live with this disorder. Those who do find themselves maintaining employment may still struggle daily.

How can I succeed in life with anxiety? ›

Practice Deep Breathing

When you're feeling exceptionally anxious, your body's natural reaction is to go into either fight or flight mode. Your heart rate will increase, your breathing will become quicker and more shallow as you prepare to take off. Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep belly breaths, help relax your body.

How does depression limit your ability to work? ›

Symptoms of depression that typically hinder a person from performing physical work include the loss of interest in all or most activities, significant loss of weight or physical health due to appetite changes (i.e., overeating or under eating), difficulty concentrating, hallucinations, and severely decreased energy.

Why am I so anxious to go to work? ›

There are various factors that may contribute to increased anxiety around work, such as a stressful workplace, tight deadlines, high levels of responsibility, difficult coworkers, and more. If you are dealing with anxiety about going to work, it could be that your workload is too demanding.

What is high functioning anxiety? ›

Instead, high-functioning anxiety typically refers to someone who experiences anxiety while still managing daily life quite well. Generally, a person with high-functioning anxiety may appear put together and well- accomplished on the outside, yet experience worry, stress or have obsessive thoughts on the inside.


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