By J.T. O’Donnell, Founder and CEO of

Inc., February 18, 2019.

The Psychological Impact of Job Search in 2019

Ironically, looking for work in times of low unemployment is lonely and demoralizing. Here’s why …

My editor recently shared with me an article that is one of the most-read and most-shared of all time for Inc. magazine. It’s called “The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship.” In it, the author discusses the glaring challenges and unglamorous realities of being an entrepreneur (which include higher rates of depression). As I read it, a voice inside my head declared, “This is why so many job seekers are depressed in one of the lowest rates of unemployment in U.S. history.”

Right Now, Depression and Job Search Go Hand in Hand

For the majority of workers, looking for a job is viewed as about as much fun as having a tooth pulled without Novocain. When I speak about career development and ask the audience what word comes to mind when they hear the phrase “job search,” they usually yell things like:


As a career therapist, I know this negative view on job search directly impacts a person’s ability to find their dream job. If you go into the process feeling like this, you automatically make the process more difficult for yourself. But there’s another reason why job search is so challenging in 2019 …


Keep improving your mental toughness. (Getty Images)

“Everyone’s Winning the Job Search Game (Except Me)” Mentality

When unemployment is as low as it is right now, there are some big misconceptions job seekers have. They include:

  1. It should be easier and faster to find a job.
  2. There’s something wrong with me if companies aren’t knocking on my door.
  3. When I apply online and nobody responds, it means my skills and abilities aren’t as strong as I thought.

All of these are wrong. The truth is, in times of low unemployment, job seekers need to approach the process quite differently. It’s actually a highly competitive time to look for work, because more people seek a new job in good economic times than bad ones. That’s because their confidence is higher. They feel safer changing jobs in a booming economy than a bust one. Thus, you need to know how to stand out in a sea of applicants.

Want a New Job in 2019? Become a Healthy Business-of-One

As a job seeker in 2019, you need to realize you aren’t an employee, you’re a business-of-one trying to sell your services to an employer. This makes you an entrepreneur — and that’s why you feel so lonely and stressed. Just as the highly read Inc. article explained, running a business is hard — and entrepreneurs tend to not take good care of themselves mentally or physically. Thus, if you want to win the job search game this year, you need to:

A) Optimize your mindset. Negative self-talk is poison. You need to surround yourself with positive people, and seek advice and support from people who will make you feel good about yourself and your ability to find your dream job.

B) Eat, drink, and exercise wisely. When you feel and look your best, you have more confidence, which those around you will notice and respond to positively.

C) Connect, connect, connect. In a world where every job is temporary, staying employed and growing your career is about connecting. I tell my clients that when it comes to career development, “your network is your net worth.”

D) Build your business-of-one marketing skills. Knowing the latest techniques for resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, and interview prep is vital. Even more important, having a proactive strategy for reaching out and connecting to your interview bucket list of dream employers can make all the difference.

P.S. Don’t mistakenly think job search gets easier over time

The more career success you have, the harder job search gets. Why? As you climb the career ladder, the number of jobs that match your requirements dwindles. It looks just like a pyramid. The higher you go, the fewer the opportunities available to fit your needs. This means the job search can take even longer, but the payoff is greater. You’ll just need to keep improving your mental toughness, personal branding, and networking skills in order to compete at the higher level. It’s like going from the minor leagues to the majors. Not everyone can move up!