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When Job Hunting Turns You Into an Angry Neckbeard


Job hunting is the worst, and anyone who says otherwise is probably one of those weirdos who love dating. It’s a high-pressure situation, with a hefty dose of artificiality, and it demands that you display your best self in a very short period of time. Also, unlike the hunt for the perfect relationship, job searching has high stakes in the immediate future: most of us just do not have the wherewithal to bank the six months of expenses that financial experts tell us we should have. It’s no wonder, then, that job seekers sometimes experience psychological fallout from their search, up to and including clinical depression. This makes it harder to get a job. It’s difficult to put on a sunny face and look like a person hiring managers should consider when you’re feeling, as one Redditor recent put it, “like an angry neckbeard.”


(Photo Credit: Know Your Meme)

Neckbeard, whuh? I’ll let Iomenana explain:

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Graduated 4 months ago. Came home from college and moved back into my parent’s basement. I was full of vigor, optimism, and in better shape than ever before. Ive been job hunting ever since, zero interviews, only one personalized reply telling me I was not selected. People tell me to cast a wider net, but I am hitting every job posting in my field in my 2 million person city, about 3-4 applications per week. People tell me to use more keywords, but I tune my resume every application as far as I can go without looking an idiot.

Im gaining weight, my sleep schedule is shifting later and later, and I go out to see friends less and less. That sounds neckbeardy, but its nothing compared to how my attitude has shifted. Employment is starting to feel like a scam, or a house of cards or something. Somehow I feel both smugly superior, and crushingly worthless.

This s*** is not a meritocracy. Most people just get hired through family connections, and the rest just lie through their teeth and are sociopathic enough to make it work. Surely any HR person who isnt garbage can tell when somebody is just spewing keywords. Even if a search engine picks out all the [keywords], why doesnt somebody human notice that they are exactly that?

So This is me now. The only thing I hate more than myself, is the world and almost everybody in it.

The horrible thing is that I am getting less and less employable as time goes on. I used to be friendly and easygoing. I wasnt a snappy-dresser or anything, but I looked pretty damn professional in some nice business-casual. Now Im an a******, and I dont always even change out of my pajamas in the morning.

Sound familiar? If you’ve ever been engaged in a long and seemingly futile job search, probably. If you’re in one right now, definitely. (The human brain has a way of wiping its memory banks, once a terrible situation has receded into the past.)

As tough as this situation is – and it is tough, don’t let anyone tell you different – there are a few things you can do to feel better in the long- and short-term.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This one goes at the top of the list, because it’s the most important. If you’re experiencing signs of clinical depression, don’t write it off as “the blues” – or assume that you can’t afford a therapist. Many accept payment on a sliding scale. If you have insurance, your regular doctor can be a good place to start, or you can begin with these resources for finding reduced-cost mental health care. Finally, if you’re in crisis, WebMD has compiled a list of hotlines.

2. Be gentle with yourself.

For many of us, our job is part of our identity. Even if you’re just working to pay the bills, and get your sense of self elsewhere, being unemployed is really hard on your psyche.

Recognize that this is a known phenomenon. In fact, one Gallup poll found that 19 percent of those who were unemployed for over a year experienced depression. You’re not alone, and you’re not crazy. You’re just having a totally normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

3. Show up every day.

If you’ve been unemployed for a while, you might be in full “neckbeard” mode, sleeping later and seeing friends less, and not even bothering to get dressed in outside clothes. That’s understandable, but in order to feel better, you’ll have to break the cycle.

Set an alarm, even if it’s only so that you can look for work or polish your resume. Take a shower. Put on clothes. Get some exercise. Remember that if your body feels bad, your spirit will, too.

4. Network. (Sorry.)

No one wants to hear this, especially when they’re feeling less than social, but networking is still the best way to get a job. The good news is that networking doesn’t mean making stilted conversation at a cocktail party full of strangers.

The best networking is more organic, and leans on the connections you already have – your friends, family, and former colleagues. Make some coffee dates with friends in your industry, and ask for advice, not just an inside track to a job at their company. It’ll feel good to be talking constructively about the working world again, and get you out of the house at the same time. Eventually, it’ll probably help you get a job, too.

5. Fill gaps in your resume.

You don’t need to have a job to keep building your CV. Volunteer work, freelancing, classes – all these things can show that you’re continuing to grow and learn. That makes you look like a candidate on the move, and someone worth hiring. 

Tell Us What You Think

How do you cope when you’re looking for work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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