Looking for work can feel daunting if you are living with anxiety.
In this guide, you will find a range of topics and tools to help you look for work with more confidence. We’ve included tips on how to search for jobs that suit you, how to manage your anxiety in interviews and where to get help if you need it.
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All of us feel anxious at times. However, some people experience anxious feelings daily or without any particular reason. The symptoms of anxiety include:
- Panic attacks
- Quick heartbeat and quick breathing
- Feeling tense or restless
- Excessive worry or fear
- Obsessive thinking about worst case scenarios
- Avoiding situations that make you feel anxious
If you are experiencing the above symptoms and haven’t spoken to a professional yet, you should seek support as soon as possible. There are a range of lifestyle, psychological and medical assistance options available.
If you have been diagnosed with anxiety and are feeling discouraged about finding work, we are here for you. APM helps people just like you find a job and stay employed long term.
You absolutely can.
People living with anxiety can experience lack of concentration and difficulty relaxing can make the idea of working seem overwhelming at times. Experiencing intense worry and fear may cause you to avoid work as a way of coping.
The good news is there are job opportunities out there for you. There’s also support available to help you find confidence in the workplace.
Working a job suited to you can have positive impacts on your mental health, you might find some of your worries and fears are reduced. The right job can give you a boost in confidence, a greater sense of purpose and reduce worries about money.
See how Dan overcame his anxiety about work to find a job he thrives in.
When thinking about what job might be a good fit for you, take time to list down your strengths and limitations. Be realistic. What are you good at? What are your weaknesses? Will you need flexible work arrangements?
Brainstorm job ideas that appeal to you. When you find work that you’re passionate about or confident doing, it can be easier to overcome the hurdles that come with anxiety.
People with anxiety find fulfilling jobs and careers in a range of industries. Some find they work best in flexible jobs or roles with limited social interaction. Others enjoy working in more social roles that are focused on helping others. Whatever your skills and passions are, there is a job for you.
Here are some job ideas to get you brainstorming:
- Jobs that keep you focused. Jobs which require you to focus on something or someone else can keep your mind from focusing on worries. Examples include nursing, massage therapy, lab technician, shelf stocking, plumbing and carpentry.
- Flexible jobs. Some jobs allow you to work from home or complete tasks to your own schedule. This is a great option if the typical 9 to 5 schedule is hard to manage. Examples of flexible jobs include freelance writing, editing, taxi driving, social media management, computer programming, web design and graphic design.
- Jobs that make a difference. During your journey with anxiety, you’ve probably picked up skills and knowledge that you can use to help others. Examples include counselling, psychology, fitness training and nursing.
- Jobs with animals, children and nature. If working with people is stressful, you might prefer to work with animals, children or nature. Examples include veterinary nursing, animal caring, landscaping, forest ranger, childcare and babysitting. Check out how Emma found working outdoors gave her a sense of purpose.
- Jobs that have a larger purpose. Do you have a passion? Perhaps you believe in protecting the environment, improving the lives of people with disabilities or helping others live a healthy life. Jobs that are part of a larger purpose can give you the grounding you need. Examples include aged care, mental health worker, nursing, dietician and working for not for profit companies.
For more inspiration, check out how Christian found long term work that improved his mental health.
If you’re wondering how to get a job with anxiety, the first step is to start looking in the right places:
Many jobs are advertised on the internet. You can search on recruitment websites, online job boards or specific company websites. Set up a profile with your skills and experience on business network websites like Linkedin.
Sometimes you can find a job by word-of-mouth. Talk to your family, friends and peers and let them know that you are looking for work. Recommendations from people who know you well can go a long way.
Sometimes you can get a job by reaching out to employers that you want to work for. If calling is too scary, you can send them an email to ask if any positions are available. Although it may feel scary, cold calling can be a great way to open up new opportunities.
Finding a job that’s a good fit can take a long time. Don’t get discouraged. It can help to set a daily goal for yourself. For example, spending two hours a day searching or applying for one job a day. During the searching phase, look after your physical and mental well-being and don’t forget to spend time doing things that you enjoy.
For more information, check out our guide on how to search for jobs.
One of the most important steps towards getting a job is writing an effective resume or curriculum vitae (CV). These documents show an employer the experience you’ve had and what you have to offer. A good resume will show off your skills and strengths and present you in the best light.
In your resume or CV you should include your work history and any qualifications you have. Also explain the skills and abilities that make you the perfect candidate for the job. Ask yourself, ‘Does this resume sell me as best as it can?’
For more information, check out our guide on how to write an effective resume and cover letter.
Interviews make everyone nervous. If you think you might struggle in a job interview situation, there are a number of strategies you can use to cope with your anxiety and build your confidence.
Here are some great tips for interviews:
- Practice positive self talk. Don’t give negative thoughts too much attention.
- Picture yourself in the interview being cool, calm and collected.
- Focus on what you can control. Research the company and prepare answers for common interview questions.
- Live in the present. It’s easy to think about what might happen or what might go wrong. Instead, focus on the here and now. One step at a time.
- Try and get a good night’s sleep before the interview.
- Once it’s all over, treat yourself to something nice. However the interview went, you made it through and that’s worth celebrating!
Anxiety symptoms may make work feel difficult but remaining employed can help you feel empowered in the long run. There are a range of strategies you can put in place to help you manage your anxiety in the workplace. Here are a few:
- Learn about your anxiety. Learn how to recognise your symptoms and develop ways to handle them.
- Prepare and plan ahead. Staying organised and prioritising your tasks properly can help you feel more in control.
- Know your limits. Don’t over-commit to projects if you don’t have enough time to complete them.
- Ask for help. You don’t have to shoulder everything on your own.
- Set boundaries. Take breaks when you need them and avoid taking work home with you.
- Look after yourself. Eat healthily, get enough sleep and exercise regularly.
- Find someone you can trust. Having someone who knows about your anxiety can be comforting.
If you are finding it difficult to cope at work due to your anxiety, help is available. Don’t be afraid to reach out. APM and NDIS offer support and workplace modifications that can help you stay in your role.
Need a little help? We’re here for you.
At APM, we know how hard it can be to look for and find a job when you're feeling anxious. We’re here to help.
Every week we support thousands of jobseekers in their search for work and we support many more to stay in their job.
Discover how rolling burritos has changed Kelsey's life for the better, and how she lives with anxiety and became one of Guzman Y Gomez' best workers:
When you come to us, we’ll get to know you and your story in a safe and supportive environment. We believe there’s a job out there for everyone and we want to help find the right one for you.
Our services include helping people to:
- Manage mental health issues that may be making it hard to get work
- Identify their strengths and skills for work
- Gain new skills they need for the workplace
- Succeed in a new job by giving them support and information
We know taking the first step can be hard. But reach out to us and we’ll be there for you on the rest of your journey towards employment. Don’t put it off, get in touch today.