Does Your Personality Change With Long-Term Unemployment?

Julie Shenkman
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Coping with unemployment is difficult for job seekers who routinely spend countless hours customizing resumes, crafting cover letters and submitting applications to multiple firms. Job candidates face anxiety and uncertainty while trying to market their skills and experience. In fact, the toll of unemployment can significantly impact your well-being and your personality, according to a 2015 study by the University of Stirling in Scotland.

The Downward Spiral of Unemployment

Researchers found that over time, individuals coping with unemployment may become less open to new experiences after facing multiple rejections. In addition, job seekers struggling with long-term unemployment may lose their drive or hearty work ethic and become less hardworking and even less friendly, according to the study.

In the 210 participants who were unemployed from one to four years, the results spotlighted differences in personality directly related to gender. For example, agreeableness decreased among all participants, regardless of gender; however, an increase in agreeableness occurred within the male subjects the first two years they were unemployed.

Coping with unemployment also led many of the study participants to lose motivation during the job search. Researchers found that many job candidates became less conscientious, which ultimately impacted their productivity and ability to gain employment.

The most surprising effect of coping with unemployment was a decrease in openness, which can alter a person’s personality significantly. Researchers concluded that when job seekers are unemployed, this reality can heavily weigh on their psyche, which impacts inspiration and a sense of adventure. Without financial means to engage in activities, many job seekers facing long-term unemployment are more likely to isolate themselves at home, too.

The Path to Regain Motivation

When faced with unemployment, job seekers should acknowledge the disappointment they feel, yet stay healthy and focused on their potential success. Focus on maintaining your skills to attract the attention of employers and hiring managers. Local community colleges offer continuing education courses that can be taken for a minimal cost. Take advantage of business seminars and workshops that are free to the public. You can also utilize your professional network to obtain more job leads.

Job seekers should also focus on enhancing both their physical and mental health while coping with unemployment. Kick-start an exercise program, or join a book club to help take your mind off your employment status. Set goals for your job search, and maintain a consistent schedule each day. Challenge yourself to send out a designated number of resumes each week, and strive to attend networking events and job fairs within the area to rejuvenate your efforts.

Although many job seekers find themselves struggling emotionally when coping with unemployment, the personality changes you may experience are valid. Find ways to stay inspired and motivated while keeping yourself occupied with strategies to develop more contacts and job leads.

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