The Craft

When Your Brain Becomes the Unexpected Villain in Your Job Search

It was Tuesday morning and I already had three rejections from jobs that I applied to in the previous week.  The other fifteen, twenty, sixty jobs (I had honestly lost count) I had applied to over the past five months of job hunting had either rejected me or given me radio silence.

I had been told that it will take time to find a job in my field and rejections were going to be common. Yet, that Tuesday, my brain had enough and all the anxiety I tried to keep under control had escaped its bindings.  I ended up curled into a ball on my bed and berating myself on why I bothered to pursue a degree in a field that clearly does not want me.

My university career center did not necessarily address how mental health could be compromised during the job search to the newly graduated students.  They would recommend to treat the job search (including applying, networking, and research) as a full-time job with no monetary compensation for the effort.  They gave you advice on your resume and interviewing style to increase your chances of getting the job. When you received rejection after rejection, they gave platitudes of “being patient” and “keep a positive attitude”.  However, pretty words cannot nearly placate the self-doubt monster that lurks within your mind after each rejection and each dwindling of your savings.

Fortunately, there are online resources out there to help the unemployed cope with joblessness, from indulging in hobbies to volunteering at non-profits related to your desired field and even starting your own business.  Whether these are possible for you to do is up to your discretion, but I have personally found volunteering and writing most therapeutic during my “in between opportunities”.

As for me, that Tuesday was a bad mental day in the job search and riding out the emotional coaster was draining.  It wasn’t the first and nor the last bad mental day I had during the job search for my contract job. I doubt I would avoid having these bad days when I am inevitably on the job market again.  But just as there are bad mental days, I have good mental days and that is when I pick up the hunt once again.

How do you deal with your mental health during times of unemployment?

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