The Mental Health Toll of the Job Search
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Like most college students, I started looking for my first full-time job a few months before graduation. I knew the process would be long and challenging. I had been warned about how I would need to be patient and not let rejections or lack of responses get to me. Many people advised me not to take negative responses personally, and to trust that the right position would come along eventually.
And they were right. The right position and the right organization turned out to be waiting for me around the corner.
However, there was one aspect of the job search that was just as mentally harmful as the rejections and the waiting that no one warned me about: the loneliness.
Looking for a job is taxing, but is also a process we go through mostly alone. We spend hours sitting by ourselves in a cafe or at home searching and writing away while the people we love are at work or school. We spend our days trying to convince strangers of our value as potential employees while we’re burdened with self-doubt and uncertainty.
I recently reached out to a few friends who are also going through the post-college job search and, as we opened up about our feelings, we realized all of us felt the same way. The weight of all the negativity involved in this process becomes heavier when we feel alone in it. It was good for us to know that we weren’t as alone as we felt, but at the same time it was sad to know others felt that way too.
While applying for jobs can feel uneventful, like a never-ending project without direction; a job makes us feel productive and valuable. Having a job gives us a sense of purpose and a community. But until we get that position, we feel stuck in limbo.
So if you know someone who is currently unemployed and looking for a job, remember to show them your support. Even if you don’t have time to keep them company while they’re applying, you can still help by reaching out to them. Ask them how they’re doing, make plans to hang out, check in. Try to add some positivity to their lives.
For those of you who are on the job search, you are not alone. Only those going through this process or who've recently been through it know how lonely it can get, so it's essential for us to be there for each other.