I’m 32, unemployed, and live with my parents in an expensive US city. In 2010, I finished a Masters Degree in Business outside the US, but I have suffered from depression ever since and have been unable to seek work since 2010. I have been seeking help for this but for all that time I simply could not motivate myself to look for work.

Right now and since 2010, I’ve helped manage some accounting with my father’s business from home, but that’s basically it. I haven't done as much as I'd like with this.

I have been seeking treatment for depression and I feel like it’s gotten to the point where I am able to work again. This is a bit scary for me. I won’t really know how to explain my time off, other than what I have said. I’m worried about being dishonest with the amount of work I was actually doing at home. I really like technological stuff but I don’t have much formal training in this. I was thinking about getting some type of certification before looking for work. I think this would help boost my confidence and be a decent thing to add to a resume.

But anyway, I was wondering what people would suggest I do if I sought work? Should I go for a certification first or what? And how would I explain myself on an interview? The depression, living at home, and being without (proper) work for this long and at my age have really sapped my confidence levels.

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    Good for you to move forward. If you have undergraduate and master degrees then a certification is not going to make a lot of difference. You need to focus on getting something on your resume and get your confidence going. Moving into technology is maybe not the best first step. Maybe start with bookkeeping - full time or contract. There are lot of small businesses that need bookkeepers. And again good for you taking the next step. – paparazzo Mar 25 '15 at 1:32
  • You're going to have to lie and say you were working for the family business full-time since 2010. – TheMathemagician Mar 25 '15 at 14:26
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    BTW I can't imagine being asked by an interviewer "Do you live with your parents?". As far as your time off, refer to the answers and comments below. But as to the "living with my parents" concern - trust me this just won't come up. – Brandin Mar 25 '15 at 17:31

You should explain that you've spent the last 5 years taking care of some personal issues, and that you have been doing accounting work for a family business to stay up on things.

If asked whether whatever kept you occupied for all that time is going to be a problem going forward, express your confidence that things are under control and you're ready to start running again. Look for work in an area where you have some demonstrable skills. If you don't have any tech experience, yet, you can shape your career in that direction once you get going (take classes, volunteer for projects at work, volunteer in the community, etc).

Congratulations on getting back on your feet. You've done an incredibly hard thing. You can do this! Good luck!

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    You answered while I was answering, and since your answer is at least as good as what I was saying, I'll just upvote yours and let mine go. – thursdaysgeek Mar 25 '15 at 0:02
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    Wonderful answer. You could even rephrase "personal issues" by "long-term illness". – parasietje Mar 25 '15 at 8:14
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    @parasietje "Long-term illness" is going to scare away at least some prospective employers. I would avoid that term. – Doyle Lewis Jun 15 '16 at 16:14

Eh, don't sweat it.

There are always jobs, the trick is to find one you like that keeps you happy (both with work and with compensation).

I would suggest that your living situation should not be mentioned. You will might give your address on your CV (I don't). That is about it, I've never had a job ask about where I live. Do not under any circumstances say you live with your parents - not because that is a terrible thing, but because it is a weird thing to say in an interview. An interview is about you saying how great you are, and how much you can bring, not a therapy situation of any kind at all.

On that vein, bringing up your emotions is also not a good idea (unless the emotions are along the lines of "I am so excited to work for you!"). This isn't because depression is something you should be embarrassed and scared about (it is not either of those things). This is because it isn't what you discuss in an interview. It sends the signal that you will discuss your feelings at work, and typically companies don't want that - they want you to work.

Say you dealt with a personal issue - as @Kent mentions. That's really all there is to it. Stress what you are bringing - certification can be good, or not, it depends on your market and what the industry expects. Talking to recruiters - they like talking to people, that is their job! - will be very helpful here, as they will have suggestions.

Don't worry about which ones to speak to, they all want to sell you for profit help you find the right job. A recruiter will happily give you advice because you are a monetisable good and advice is free.

Confidence sucks, but it is one of those things that comes (and goes). Just keep on trying to find a role. The confidence will come, but it takes continued effort. Don't worry about lacking confidence. Everybody feels like a total fail whale sometimes (hell, I feel like one on alternate days ending in y!), so you're in good company (you're also in bad company and medium company, but focus on the good company bit, that helps!).

In a few years you'll have the confidence back and see this as a learning curve.


Hiring is about the future not the past. A prospective employer hires you because they have a need for you going forward. Since you have been struggling with depression in the last five years, you need to be convincing if you ever say that this episode of your life is well behind you and that you are ready and able to start work. Whatever the employer wants from you, the one thing they don't want is your problems becoming theirs. If you can't give them that confidence, neither will you get a job. So give them that confidence. To figure out how to do it is your problem not theirs.

While it is understandable that you confidence has been sapped, only you can really believe that you are able to move forward and get the job done. None of us and certainly not any of your prospective employers can do the believing for you. Nor are they under any moral obligation to believe in you. You'll have to restore your confidence in yourself because no one is going to do it for you. No one is under any obligation to believe in you when you don't believe in yourself. Not believing in yourself and not having confidence in yourself are luxuries you just can't afford.

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