At the end of February, The Ladders featured Debra Donston-Miller's article Depression is Making Unemployment Longer, which reiterated the well-known fact that unemployment walks hand in hand with depression and anxiety, and that, in turn, diminishes your ability to get employed.
It's a vicious circle, you know. A person looses his job - that's on its own is a hard blow to his ego. Nevertheless, he gets right on all job boards - Monster, CareerBuilder, etc. - posts his resume and applies to every single opening that matches his qualifications. As time goes by, he keeps lowering his expectations - now applications go out to jobs with smaller titles and lower salaries. Still, the response is not too hot.
Nowadays, the statistical probability of converting applications into a recruiter's or hiring manager's interest is around 2% for high-level financial professionals - CFOs, Controllers, Financial Directors, etc. The national numbers of people not being able to find employment in one, sometimes two, and more years are scary.
While you are waiting for the sparks in the dark, your spirits get lower and lower. You become listless, loose interest in everything - depression really kicks in. The anxiety of not being able to support yourself when the savings and unemployment compensation run out gets overwhelming. You swing between over-hype of appraising your possession for possible liquidation and inability to move a muscle.
Still, you force yourself to apply every day, you do your networking, ask people around. Finally, quantity turns into quality: you've sent out 100 resumes and someone finally called you. You've had a positive response after the phone interview and now you are going for a face-to-face appointment. Anxiety floods you - the workspace environment, which you have not experienced for several months, seems so alien to you.
You are prepared, though - you are a seasoned executive with superior qualifications, a likable person, well-spoken, know how to handle yourself. The interview seems to go well, but there are so many candidates, and you might have said something wrong just because the depression and anxiety ate some of your confidence away. Every day you wait for a call back, but nobody ever does; nobody even sends an email to let you know that you did not qualify - people don't do those sort of polite things anymore.
Now, you are loosing hope altogether: it is more and more difficult to make yourself even to look at the job listings. It seems like staring at the television screen all day without seeing what's on is a better option...
You know what? I am not going to tell you that it will get better. I am not a fortune teller. I don't know it, but neither do you. Yes, it's fucking tough out there! As I always say, we live in a new economic reality. The truth is that you may need to rethink your entire life. But you cannot let the depression eating away your time. FIGHT IT! Do you know what happens with every single day you waste on giving in to nothingness? It disappears and you will never get it back.
The Ladders' article quoted cognitive behavioral psychologist Deb Brown, who suggests creating a routine for yourself as one of the helpful tools. My readers know how big I am on time-management and routines. Whether you are fighting the unemployment depression or job frustration, scheduling your time and filling your day with meaningful tasks always helps. And when you are unemployed, you have an opportunity to do things that you never had time for before: study Spanish with that Rosetta Stone pack you've got for your birthday two years ago; transfer all those home videos onto DVDs, get yourself fit.
You don't really need more than two-three hours a day to look for new openings and apply. Spend the rest of your free time (FREE TIME - when do we have it otherwise?) catching up on your life. And don't be a prisoner of your schedule either - let go of it for a day, when you feel frustrated.
And listen, even if things with employment never get better and some drastic decisions will need to be made, at least you will not need to look back at the long stretch of a complete misery right before that.