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Job search depression is real, but it’s not permanent.

I’ve often wondered why good people stay in bad jobs. After working with clients whose experiences span a variety of work horrors and triumphs, I’ve come to find that more often than not, people stay in unfulfilling (and sometimes downright abusive) jobs because they’re scared of the job search process.

The process of finding a new job seems more overwhelming than it’s worth could potentially lead them to a bout of job search depression. When they consider where they are now versus where they want to be next, they think that the risks don’t outweigh the rewards to even start the process of getting a new job.

Here’s a sampling of common reasons I hear from clients who are worried about job search depression:

“What if no one will hire me?”

“My resume sucks and I freak out in interviews.”

“I’m not special compared to someone else in my field.”

“I’m too old, and no one is going to hire me.”

“I keep applying for jobs, but I’m not getting interview.”

“I lost my job, and I don’t know what to do next.”

“Maybe I should just stay where I am and hope things will get better.”

The problem with that last statement is that it never actually gets better because organizations and people do not change in the way that you want them to or at the speed that you want them to. Instead of lamenting in the frustration, pull yourself out of a job search depression by taking action now. Here’s how to do it.

Know that everything changes

Life is full of new changes, so make sure you’re thinking forward (not backward) about where you’re going.

If you’ve been at a company for a while, let’s say a year and a half, you already have a reputation among your peers and among leadership. So, for better or worse, your coworkers see you one way, even if you want to be seen as something else. The reality is that once you’re in your proverbial box, it takes a herculean effort to get out of it.

It’s true that some people are in great “boxes.” They move up fast, they make tons of friends, they come skipping into work on Monday morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to take on the day’s new challenge! Those people are nuts great at networking. If you want that to be you, then you need to develop great networking skills (we’ll save that topic for another post).

If you’re in the majority that doesn’t want to speed race to the top, but does want a growing career at a great company, then you may need to get out of where you are. When you’re no longer growing by learning new things and taking on new challenges, then it’s your obligation to leave.

Gain confidence with a great resume

If you want relieve your job search depression you’re going to need a mindset of patience and persistence. Getting a new job is a marathon, not a sprint, but the good news is that with a little preparation it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

It’s true that the job market is highly competitive, but it’s also true that there are ways to gain the competitive advantage. Do you know people who are always interviewing for a new job? What about the people who get a new job every 18 months or so? The secret to their success is their mindset.

They don’t let the process of applying, interviewing, and accepting a new job overwhelm them to the point of paralysis. They focus their attention on all the benefits of the new job, not on all the “what ifs” on the way to getting that new job.

When you enter the job hunt, be prepared that you’re not always going to win. You’re not always going to get an offer, and in fact, you’re not always going to have your resume picked for an interview. But, you can give yourself the competitive edge against everyone else by telling a great story. And that great storytelling begins with your resume.

Take the first small step

When my clients come to me with job search depression, they always ask me, “What do I do first?” My answer is always, “Let’s start by writing the perfect resume.” The reason I recommend we start there is because most people tell themselves a story that doesn’t serve them. By starting with your resume, we begin the process of reframing the way that you think about your achievements so that you can more confidently deliver your career story in a way that will make someone want to hire you.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how great you are until someone asks you the right question. My clients often feel beaten down by their crappy job, so they don’t think that they’ve actually accomplished anything impressive or produced results that another company would care about.

That’s simply not true.

I have yet to work with a client who hasn’t added value to a company in some way. My job is to help you identify the compelling parts of your career story and put it on paper in a way that makes sense and demonstrates what you have to offer. Your job is to be open to the process and be willing to recall and share those moments where you made a significant impact.

When I interview a client about their work experience, it’s amazing to me how many times they will say, “Oh, that’s right, I DID do that!” As we talk through their history and they answer my questions, they start to remember their accomplishments and I can hear their confidence building in their voice. They start to feel like they do have a special set of skills and experiences to bring to a new company.

The light bulb goes off.

They’ve hit the turning point, and they’re ready to crush the job search…all because they took that small first step.