Job Search Anxiety Causes Silent Suffering and Stress

Job search anxiety can appear when you're looking for employment, and often lead to major depression. In these cases, cognitive-behavioral therapy can be of the most help. In fact, it allows you to positively change your attitude.
Job Search Anxiety Causes Silent Suffering and Stress
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 10 January, 2022

Sometimes, even the simple act of preparing your CV makes you anxious. In fact, job search anxiety is becoming increasingly present today. For example, you often might feel completely helpless when no one calls you back or responds to your emails. These disappointments, coupled with your feelings of uncertainty, further increase your suffering.

When you search for information about job search anxiety and stress, you often find guides on how to succeed in interviews. Indeed, there’s plenty of helpful advice out there, like strategies for dealing with nerves during a selection process. However, there’s one aspect that tends to be left out and that doesn’t tend to be discussed much either.

We’re referring to people with depression or a mood disorder. More particularly, those who are unemployed or unable to find a job. As a matter of fact, recently, World Mental Health Day was celebrated, and this particular group of individuals was not even mentioned.

It may not be too surprising to hear that depression can be caused by job search anxiety. In fact, recent research by Barbara J. Jefferis, from the University College London claimed that unemployment and the frustrating search for a job are often directly related to major depression.

Often, the first signs of depression begin to appear when the mere process of filling in your information for a job application becomes a stressful event. Let’s continue exploring this concept.

Job search anxiety, a common reality.

Job search anxiety: a common reality for many

Suffering some anxiety and stress while looking for a job is common. Indeed, it’s often experienced by those who’ve just finished their studies. For example, while filling out their CV, they might realize that experience tends to have more weight than academic qualifications. On the other hand, job search anxiety may also affect more experienced job seekers. Indeed, even these kinds of people can find themselves in overwhelming, chaotic, and uncertain scenarios, when they’re job hunting.

The high demand and scarcity of jobs often mean you stay in limbo, waiting for replies and callbacks. The University of Chicago (USA) conducted a study over several years with a sample of 282 people. In this study, the researchers concluded that when it came to finding a job, the least important thing was how much they knew or what they know. In fact, it turned out that the most important question was “who do you know?”.

These types of realities often lead to states of helplessness and despondency. Indeed, many people, regardless of their age and training, begin to condition any aspect related to their job search. They see the process of job searching as stressful. Then, as time passes, the failure to find a job, the phone that doesn’t ring, and emails that don’t get a response, all add up. In other words, these factors lead to job search anxiety.

Stress with job searching: associated indicators

Let’s look at what behaviors, thoughts, and situations usually characterize people who suffer from job search anxiety:

  • Lack of confidence in receiving answers to job applications.
  • Feeling that uncertainty is increasingly difficult to face, process, and bear.
  • Procrastinating in the sending out of resumés.
  • Experiencing anxiety when filling out a job application.
  • Demotivation during selective processes, due to previous failures.
  • Increasing doubt in their personal and professional abilities.
  • Environmental factors like your colleagues, friends, and family. For example, sometimes, they may be negative about your chances of finding a job.
Woman working on overcoming job search anxiety.

Overcoming job search anxiety

Everyone is competent, valid, and deserving, not only of any job but of a good job. Furthermore, we might talk about the need to be creative. This implies recognizing in yourself how you may bring something new to the job market table. These are excellent concepts. However, they also often collide with reality.

If you aren’t well psychologically, you might find it impossible to give the best of yourself to others. In fact, due to consistently experiencing failure, you may dig yourself into a negative emotional hole. In these cases, there are no magical formulas. However, receiving professional and specialized help does work.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can allow you not only to reorient your internal dialogue but break down any negative thoughts. In addition, cognitive therapy will allow you to learn to process failure and to develop better skills. With these, you can create new, and positive outlooks, and face the job market with renewed strength and courage.

Lastly, in addition to psychological help, it may be appropriate to incorporate these simple but powerful ideas:

  • Remember that negative thoughts stop you from seeing and utilizing opportunities.
  • Revise your attitudes.
  • Take better care of yourself. For example, exercising, reading, and good nutrition are essential.
  • Good social support is essential. Avoid those who submerge you in their own pessimism and defeatism.
  • Developing mindfulness is a suitable strategy to better manage your emotions.

Last but not least, in order to combat job search anxiety, it pays to be creative and proactive. As a matter of fact, sometimes, the darkest moments can give rise to the brightest ideas and projects.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Jefferis, B. J., Nazareth, I., Marston, L., Moreno-Kustner, B., Bellón, J. ángel, Svab, I., … King, M. (2011). Associations between unemployment and major depressive disorder: Evidence from an international, prospective study (the predict cohort). Social Science and Medicine73(11), 1627–1634.

  • Weiss, P. (2006). Encontrar un trabajo. Science News , 169 (22), 1–9.

  • Granovetter, M. (1995). Getting a Job: A Study of Contacts and Careers. University of Chicago Press25(3), 391.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.