Unemployment & Depression: How To Deal With the Blues

May 22nd, 2012 No comments

When we talk about job search, we speak a lot about mechanics: how to write your resume, how to interview, and how to network. But here’s the elephant in the room — a huge subject that we don’t talk about enough — the psychological side of the job search.

Are you unemployed?

Do you have trouble sleeping? Have you lost contact with good friends? Have your family relationships become strained? Have you felt  a loss of confidence?
You are not alone. The Pew Research Center reports that these are common experiences of job seekers who’ve been unemployed for as little as two months.

In a survey of over 800 unemployed Americans, Pew found that nearly half had reported trouble sleeping — a common symptom of anxiety and depression. Pew reports that people who are unemployed are more likely to seek psychological help for anxiety and depression.  Based on my own experience facilitating job search groups and working with individuals, I’d also say that there are also many more job seekers who don’t seek treatment because they feel they can’t afford it.

Bottom line: The psychological aspect of job search can be just as challenging as the logistics of finding a job. Here are five strategies you can use to keep yourself emotionally healthy.

1. Educate your friends and family on how to talk to you.

If you’ve been in the job search for a while, it may feel awful when friends or family say, “How’s your job search going? You still haven’t heard back? Why is it taking so long?”

All of this can feel not good. This piece from blogger Penelope Trunk focuses on how to help a friend who’s been laid off. If you agree with it, you may want to make it required reading for your friends and family. (And feel free to add your own suggestions on “the best way to communicate with me.)

2. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself.

Pew reports that nearly 40% of individuals who’ve been in the job market for more than six months say they’ve lost some degree of self respect.

In a job search you can’t guarantee you’ll get the job you want in short order. You can do things that make you feel good about yourself. Here are two ways to feel good:

1. Volunteer.
Idealist.org and United Way are two sites that have great leads on organizations in need of volunteers.

2. Do something that plays to your strengths.
Here’s a free survey from the VIA Institute on Character that can help you identify your interpersonal strengths. As there’s a strong correlation between what we enjoy and what we do well, this may help you brainstorm new options.

3. Don’t go it alone. Join a club.

Dick Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, says job clubs have an 84% success rate in helping people find work. That’s a much higher success rate than simply applying for jobs online.

Participating in a job club helps in two ways: In addition to getting help on how to apply for jobs, you get all the benefits of hanging out with other people who know what you’re going through — because they’ve been there,too and they are more likely to say “I know exactly how you are feeling, because I’ve been there myself.”

Two sources for finding great clubs:

Job-Hunt.org’s Directory of Networking and Job Search Support by State


MeetUp.com (includes hundreds of other professional and personal interest groups, as well as job clubs)

4. Ask for a Good Word from a Friend

While part of the U.S. work ethic is to “pull yourself up by the boot straps,” don’t overlook the power of getting help with your job search. Want more evidence? Consider this off-cited statistic, “if you get referred in for a job, your chances of getting hired may go up to 1 in 4.”

Connect your free StartWire account to LinkedIn and Facebook, and you’ll get suggestions on friends who can help you with specific jobs.

Let your friends know what you’re good at — and jobs you’d be open to — and you’ll also have a better chance of success in getting what you want there as well.

5. If You’re Feeling Low, Get Help

Many community agencies provide free or low-cost mental health resources. The Department of Labor runs national One-Stop career centers designed to provide comprehensive support for job seekers — don’t be afraid to ask them about mental health services available near you.

To find available services near you, check in with your local one stop center.

These five tips are designed to help you stay mentally fit and feeling good , we encourage you to check out at least one of them even if you’re feeling down and don’t feel like you have the energy to even get started. As bestselling author and Psychiatrist Gordon Livingston says, “feelings often follow behaviors”: One of the best ways to start feeling better is simply to do something!

Photo courtesy of Craig M. Dennis via Flickr.

StartWire™ Launches First-Ever Online Unemployment Work Search Organizer to Help Job Seekers Report for Benefits

May 10th, 2012 No comments

Lebanon, NH (May 9, 2012)StartWire™, a game-changing Internet job search organizer, today launched a first-of-its-kind application for unemployed job seekers – the StartWire Unemployment Work Search Organizer. With all 50 states requiring unemployed benefit claimants to track their work search on a weekly basis, the StartWire Unemployment Work Search Organizer automates the often-manual task of job tracking to receive benefits.

“For nearly all unemployed job seekers, the task of finding a job is stressful enough and then you layer on the unpleasant chore of job tracking for state unemployment benefits,” says Chris Forman, CEO of StartWire. “With this new application, StartWire continues to be a resource for job seekers throughout their job search lifecycle by making finding a job easier and more expedient.”

Via a one-click process within the StartWire site, job seekers can customize their job search records based on a date-range selection option and download the form as an excel spreadsheet to submit to the appropriate state’s unemployment agency. The report fields include status of application, potential employer information such as organization name and contact details as well as job type. The fields were compiled based on StartWire research of required unemployment benefit filings for all 50 states.

A recent StartWire survey of 25,000 unemployed benefit recipients indicated that one out of four job seekers surveyed had their work search records audited by state unemployment agencies. And of those that failed to provide records or showed incomplete records, nearly 75 percent had to re-pay benefits or were denied benefits for a period of time. Also, job seekers reported difficulties in keeping track of all the job search sites they had visited, and remembering application dates once they were audited – often long after applying. For further detail on the survey, see The Challenges & Benefits of Work Search Reporting Infographic.

“The failure of filing or incomplete record keeping can have devastating repercussions,” said Hari Ranganathan, StartWire Product Manager. “This new tool is a no-brainer and lets job seekers focus on the task at hand – finding a job.”

Seeking to radically improve the job search process, StartWire closes the “résumé black hole” by providing job seekers with automatic application status updates from thousands of employers. With a network of 6,000+ employers and growing, StartWire improves application visibility and hiring knowledge for job seekers.

About StartWire™

StartWire™, a game-changing Internet job search organizer that launched in early 2011. StartWire closes the “résumé black hole” by providing job seekers with automatic application status updates from thousands of employers. Over the past 12 months, StartWire has received rave reviews and write-ups in US News & World Report, About.com, AOL Jobs, CNN, ERE, and HR Executive Magazine.

Unemployment: Tips for Filling Out Work Search Records

May 1st, 2012 No comments

If you have never received unemployment benefits, you may not be aware that all 50 states require most claimants to maintain a weekly record of their work search to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. The specifics vary slightly by state, but you generally need to record where and when you have applied and the results of your application. This can be a great way to stay organized and remain motivated in your work search, but it can also present significant challenges.

We talk to job seekers all the time, and one of the biggest complaints during the job search from StartWire users who are unemployed is a concern about completing the work search records required by state unemployment offices.

Everyone wants to find work, but even after applying to numerous positions it can still be difficult to adequately complete a work search record. On the surface, work search reporting might seem like a simple requirement and for many it is, but for some it can become a daunting challenge. Why? In order to verify the work search records, many states require contact information for employers that includes a phone number. In some states, such as Montana, the name and contact information of the hiring manager is required.

When looking at online job postings, this information can be hard to come by. Job seekers are often unsure who will be viewing their application, and don’t know what contact information to put down. Today, we’d like to provide you with a few of our favorite strategies for finding this information. We hope it will make your life easier, and allow you to spend more time finding a job and less time worrying about your work search record.

Where to find contact information for those listings (even if the name and phone number isn’t listed in the job description):
  • Google. (We recommend searching company name, city, and “human resources” or HR – you should find a name in the search results)
  • Superpages (www.superpages.com), this site is an online phone directory. Try searching the White Pages by company name. You will at least get the main phone line for the company.
  • The company voice mail directory. (If you don’t want to talk, call at night and access the departmental directory – once you get transferred to a voicemail, you’ll also frequently get a name.)
  • LinkedIn.com (Use the Company pages feature to see employees at a company. Connect your StartWire account to LinkedIn and any related connections to your account will be recommended to you automatically.)

Just a quick reminder – StartWire is not certified to provide legal counsel on these matters, and cannot guarantee that these strategies will provide you with adequate information for your work search record. If you have questions related to your unemployment benefit eligibility status, or creating a work search record that meets your state’s requirements, we urge you to contact your state unemployment office. These are simply suggestions based on our experience to aid you in finding information in your work search.

Use these resources and take heart – we’ve got another new tool coming your way very soon — it should help ease the pain of keeping and submitting these records!

Unemployment: The Challenges No One Talks About

April 30th, 2012 No comments

At StartWire, we like to address the pesky problems in job search and unemployment that many sweep under the rug. Here are two of the big problems we’ve already tackled.

  • What happened to my job application after I applied?

StartWire provides a way to get updated on the status of your job search at over 7,000 companies.

  • Why am I seeing job listings that are six months old?

We’ve streamlined our job listings to only show you jobs that have been posted within the last two weeks.

For the next few weeks, we’re going to pull the rug up, and talk about areas of job search that are rarely discussed—the process of living and searching for work while on unemployment.  We’ll be talking about how to deal with unemployment and the unemployment benefits process, with the goal of addressing challenges and issues not often addressed.