7 Secrets for a Healthy Job Search (Guest Post: Kyle Oswald)

Depression sucks, doesn’t it? I think most job seekers have depression in common, to some degree. I want you to have a healthy job search… physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I have a good friend (Kyle Oswald, LCSW-C) who is a social worker and does a lot of counseling.  I asked him about depression and the job search… here’s a guest post that he wrote for me you to have a healthy job search.

7 Secrets for a Healthy Job Search

1. You feel the way you think

There is only one person in this world that can ever make you depressed, worried, or angry – and that person is YOU! This idea can change your life.” –David Burns, MD Author of Feeling Good.

What an empowering statement! Consider another such quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus:

Men are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.

This means that your thoughts – not actual events – create your moods. In other words, the bad things that happen do not really cause us to become depressed.

We get depressed because of the way we think about events. If you lose your job, you may feel sad and self-critical because you tell yourself, “I’m no good. There must be something wrong with me.”

You may also feel angry and frustrated because you tell yourself, “Life is unfair. Why is this always happening to me?”

These negative thoughts are quite natural (but don’t help you have a healthy job search). Nearly all of us think this way from time to time. When you learn to change these thoughts, you can CHANGE the way you FEEL. But how?

This leads us to our next secret…

2. You can change the way you feel

The most important conversations you will have today will be with yourself.

So what are those conversations going to be like? Feeling bad about being laid-off or not getting a call back from an interview is very different from saying to yourself “I am a failure” at the core.

Recognize what you’re saying to yourself!

To heighten your awareness, keep a thought record: Every two to three hours, stop what you’re doing and write for 5 minutes about the messages you’ve been telling yourself regarding your skills, abilities, competence, appearance, intelligence, and your worth.

Keep doing this for a week or so, looking for patterns.

Once you recognize these unhealthy thought patterns, replace them with healthy alternatives. This puts you on the road to having a healthy job search.

3. Get out of line before you jump! Recognizing depressed thoughts

Imagine yourself as an 11-year-old. You’re at the community pool on a hot summer’s day. The line for the high-dive platform is as deep as the cool water waiting for your splash down. As you get in line those nervous butterflies in your stomach start to appear. You imagine yourself on the platform looking down on the water below.

You know you could step out of line right now and could probably get away with little to no guff for doing so from your buddies. If you wait, however, and keep going until you’re climbing the ladder or even on the platform looking down, your chances of turning back decrease as it becomes more socially and psychologically difficult. Once you take the leap into the pool, there’s no going back!

Thus goes the battle every day in the silent chambers of your mind.

If you are able to recognize when the negative dialogue starts – when you first get in line for the high-dive – the chances of your being able to push it aside, get out of line, and go swim someplace else that is healthier are much greater.

Don’t wait until you’re up on the platform taking that leap down to psychological/emotional doom.

Speaking of doom… the next step to a healthy job search is:

4. Stay clear from “all or nothing” thinking

“I didn’t get so much as a call back from the interview; I must be a total failure. I’ll never get a job!”

Seeing your search rejections in black-or-white distorts reality and forms the basis of perfectionism, which by-the-way, is NOT a virtue!

Perfectionism causes you to fear mistakes and imperfections because you will see yourself as a total loser, feeling worthless and inadequate.


If you try to force your experiences into absolute categories, you will set yourself up for discrediting yourself endlessly because whatever you do will never measure up to your exaggerated expectations. The next step to a healthy job search is:

5. Acknowledge Reality: “Nevertheless!”

Acknowledge unpleasant external conditions without condemning your core self.

You may sometimes have thoughts like “Because I have no job, I’m a loser.” Replace these with “Even though…nevertheless” thoughts, such as “Even though I don’t have a job, nevertheless I am still a worthwhile person.” The next step to a healthy job search is:

6. Remember the basics

We’ve heard this countless times: Eat healthy, keep regular sleep hours, exercise daily. Yet nearly all of us who struggle with depression fumble and flounder in keeping with these healthy habits.

  • Eating: Cut the carbs from your diet by replacing them with healthy protein alternatives such as nuts and lean jerky. Eat five small meals a day instead of three big ones. And do I really need to say it? Drink more water!
  • Sleep: Studies show that it’s not just the quantity of sleep, but the consistency of sleep times that can really make the difference in your mood. For adults, 6 – 8 hours of regular sleep is best during the dark hours of the night. Waking early to “get stuff done” will also do wonders for your sense of well-being.
  • Exercise: The benefits of regular exercise are endless, but let’s just consider one of the many side effects: Endorphin production. Endorphins are 18 to 500 times as powerful as any man-made pain reliever. They produce four key effects on the bodymind: they enhance the immune system, they relieve pain, they reduce stress, and postpone the aging process. How do you get these puppies to work for you? Get up and move! (Molecules of Emotion by Candace B. Pert, Simon & Schuster, 1997)

7. Get and stay inspired!

Wouldn’t it be nice if motivation to just sprang from us like an endless fountain?

The job search can be monotonous, frustrating and downright discouraging. Filling out your 34th online application or following up on yet another networking lead can be emotionally draining.

Find something to inspire you! Set a window of time for your search each day and then reward yourself with something along the way.

For example, set a timer for 90 minutes while you do nothing else but search for new job postings (JASON HERE: UH, NOT IN JULY, WHEN WE’RE DOING OUR JOB BOARD FAST 🙂 :)). When the timer goes off, TAKE A BREAK!

Set the time for 10 – 15 minutes while you get up and stretch, eat something (preferably healthy), play a quick game, or call/message a friend. Then get back to it!

Stay motivated over time by reading inspirational articles and books, staying connected to those who are also searching, and being active in your community, church or synagogue are all healthy ways to help you stay inspired and motivated and have a healthy job search!

Kyle is an outstanding person, and he knows what he’s talking about.  Don’t be ashamed of these feelings. Understand them, combat them, and work around them. Kyle, and I, want you to have a healthy job search!

6 thoughts on “7 Secrets for a Healthy Job Search (Guest Post: Kyle Oswald)”

  1. Great article. The “all or nothing” thinking and not taking things personally is a good reminder. There are so many unknown factors that go into corporate decision making. Finding ways to feel good, inspired and energetic are so key, as you bring emotions and energy to the table wherever you go.

  2. This could just as easily be titled “Seven Secrets for A Healthy Life! Outstanding post Kyle. Here’s an idea: Nobody graduates from high school, anywhere, without understanding the above and also how interest rates work on credit cards.

  3. Sterling and Jeff, thank you 🙂 I spent time with Kyle in Maryland this week – was honored that he came with me to a Friday morning presentation. Anyway, we were talking and he said he wished he would have thought to put one more thing… which is to GET COUNSELING. I hope to talk him into expanding on that more in a new post … 🙂

  4. Kyle’s right — Dr. Burns’ advice can work wonders. I recommend his books — get Feeling Good, The Feeling Good Handbook, and Ten Days to Self-Esteem. Then, if you begin working through the latter, it will recommend additional readings and exercises in the first two. It’s important to use the two latter books, because they are workbooks with exercises that can help you improve your thoughts, which in turn, improves your feelings and moods.

  5. All definitely great advice particularly for graduates who are finding the job search depressing. I do take issue with number 5 as I feel it sounds a little self-defeating with such words as ‘nevertheless’ and ‘even though’. Perhaps it is just semantics but I would rephrase and say “Because I have no job I am a loser is a stupid thing to say to myself. I have wonderful talents and gifts to give to people in my job and daily to friends and family. I know that I will find the best and happiest job for me by focusing on the search and using my network to support me!”

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