8 Tips for Successful Job Seeking When You Have Depression

Kate Davidson
July 29, 2021



If you struggle with depression or other mental health issues, you are far from alone. According to the Ministry of Health, one in five New Zealand adults is diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder. The number of Kiwis with high levels of mental distress has steadily risen over recent years. What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic and its knock-on effects have placed additional stress and uncertainty on many people already struggling with their mental wellbeing.

When you live with depression, looking for a job can feel like a huge and relentless uphill battle. Symptoms of depression include a lack of motivation and an urge to withdraw from the world, neither of which are helpful when it comes to finding a new job, a task that involves plenty of self-motivation and putting yourself out there. If you’re struggling with the hard graft of job seeking, here are some practical tips to help you persevere and succeed.


1. Get Organised

Beginning your job search can feel daunting. Where to start? One useful way to begin is creating a schedule to follow, breaking your job hunt up into a series of manageable tasks. You can also set up a spreadsheet to track your applications. People with depression can have trouble remembering fine details, so keeping a written record of each application and where it’s up to can be very helpful. That way, you won’t lose track of what you’ve applied for.


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2. Take Time Out

It’s great to work hard on your job search, but it’s also vital to take regular breaks to do something relaxing and enjoyable. Self-care is vital for your mental health, and various ‘feel-good’ activities can help you recharge. Going for a walk in nature, meeting a friend for coffee, or just chilling out with your favourite Netflix show (something humorous and uplifting if possible) can all be beneficial.


3. Stay Connected

Depression can make it hard to get out of bed, let alone socialise and connect with friends and whanau. However, it’s a great idea to make the most of your support network while you’re job hunting. Can a friend take care of your kids while you work on applying for jobs, for example? Is there a family member who could be your job-seeking wingman (or woman), supporting you to stay on track when you’re struggling? If you find that the support of friends and whanau isn’t enough, it’s a good idea to seek professional help. Health Navigator has a valuable list of depression support services.


4. Look After Your Physical Health

Physical health and mental health are strongly linked. There have been many studies on the link between exercise and depression and whether regular exercise can alleviate symptoms. While studies have differed on the most beneficial exercise style (with some recommending aerobic exercise and some saying walking has optimum benefits), almost all studies found that exercise positively impacts. A 2001 study found that exercise was as effective as cognitive therapy in improving symptoms of depression. All exercise is good exercise, so pick whichever kind you enjoy most. The increased flow of oxygen to your brain will have you coming back to your job search feeling refreshed too.


5. Learn How to Cope With Rejection

Unfortunately, no matter how brilliant your CV and your career experience, rejection is an inevitable part of any job search. This can be difficult to cope with if you are already suffering from low self-esteem. Remember that everyone faces this, and it is no reflection on you as a person. Employers are simply trying to match the right person to the right job. What’s more, rejection can work both ways; there might be times when you go for an interview and decide the job isn’t for you. If you feel comfortable doing so, you could ask for feedback after interviews. It can be useful to gain that knowledge and factor it into future applications.


6. Practice, Practice, Practice For Interviews

Job interviews are nerve-wracking for anyone, but they can be excruciating if you suffer from low self-worth, like many people with depression. The fear of judgment can be limiting. One way to try to address this is through thorough preparation. Research the company, practise your answers to common interview questions, and think about your strengths. You’ll feel more in control if you’re fully prepared. Confidence is also something you can practice. You might not feel truly confident, but this can be helpful if you picture yourself approaching the interview calmly. Try to focus on the here and now rather than worrying about what could go wrong. Finally, pat yourself on the back! Getting to the interview stage is an achievement in itself, and you can take pride in knowing that you’re among the top candidates. The employer is curious to meet you and learn more about you, which is a great opportunity.


7. Pick Employers And Jobs That Are a Good Fit

Think about what you really want from a job and what will work well in your mental wellbeing. For example, many people who live with depression like a flexible job with working from home option. One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many more companies are offering these options. You might also want to avoid high-stress jobs with excessively long hours, as chronic or long-term stress can make depression worse. Do a bit of research into companies you’d like to work for. Do the company’s values fit well with your own? Do they have a reputation for caring about their employees? These are important things to consider.


8. Sign Up With a Job Site

Finding a job site that is a good fit for you can take some of the initial hard work out of the job-seeking process by putting the right opportunities in front of you. If you suffer from depression, it’s vital that work is a place where you feel valued and included. JobNow only works with companies who value their employees, care about the candidate journey and who want to share their values and key insights. Check out our available opportunities and sign up.


Getting Support for Depression

Need to reach out for some extra support with your mental health and wellbeing? There are lots of free services available. The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission has a helpful list of helplines and other services that support people living with depression. Get support