Why Do People Give Up Looking for a Job?

Looking for a job isn’t easy—especially when you’ve been laid off from a recent position, or haven’t been in the workforce for a while (because of injury, children, etc).

Some folks can go weeks or even months searching for work to no avail. Others aren’t even able to get an interview. It’s understandable that those fed up with the struggle might be tempted to give up.

Survey of the Unemployed

In a Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals, we found Illinois has the highest percentage of respondents who have “completely given up,” at 44%, while 33% of total respondents have given up nationally. Ohio, on the other hand, has the lowest percentage at 25%.

However, these same respondents were still hopeful. When asked if they agree with the statement, “I’m hopeful that I will find a job I really want in the next six months,” Oklahoma respondents were the most hopeful, with 95% agreeing with the statement to some degree. Florida ranked last with 74% expressing hopefulness.

Unemployment is still a huge problem, even though the national average is relatively low. The average duration of unemployment varies from state to state. The unemployed in Oklahoma report being out of work for an average of 19.8 months, while the unemployed in Florida report 33.1 months. The national average is 23.5 months.


People give up looking for work for a variety of reasons. In the Harris Poll, we asked “Why have you given up looking for a job?”

We received many responses to this question, including:

  • I decided to stay home and take care of the kids.
  • Ageism in the application process prevents me from getting a job even when I do get an interview.
  • Employers want experienced candidates, but I can’t get experience without a job.
  • I’m unable to perform heavy labor, and that’s all that’s available in my area.
  • I’ve been out of the workforce for too long and nobody wants to employ me.
  • I don’t have the education level required by employers.
  • I’m tired of getting rejected over and over again.
  • Because there aren’t any jobs available in my area.
  • I have a disability or injury that doesn’t allow me to perform most jobs.
  • I have a criminal record.
  • I’m taking care of a sick relative.

How to Stick With It

How can you keep looking for a job, even in the face of such adversity?

If you can, try to form a support group. Find friends or relatives who are going through similar job search issues as you, and vent. Knowing you’re not alone can make the job search much easier.

If that doesn’t work? Consider a recruiting service. Even if you can’t find anything out there for your specific situation (whether it’s your age, experience, or a disability), recruiting services can. Because of their connections to local businesses, recruiters know about jobs you might never hear about or jobs that were never publicly posted.

Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S. and Canada and can help out with these kinds of problems. After all, we employed a record 510,000 people in 2016!

If you have any questions about your job search, contact your local Express office or fill out our online contact form.

Have you ever quit the job search? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Alvin Melfi

    Fine way of describing, and good paragraph to obtain data on the topic of my presentation subject matter, which i am going to present in college.|

  2. Pam Banks

    I am in the process of looking for a job after finishing college last December. Fortunately, I am employed, but the search is slow going. I want to get exactly what I want and the options in my area are few and far between.

  3. Sheena Lopez

    I have given up yet, but I have felt discouraged looking for jobs. I have filled out numerous applications and have gotten zero call backs. I am a veteran with experience in different ranges and still no bites. I am not sure what the problem is really. I’ve applied for simple minimum wage jobs, regular paying jobs, custodial jobs, and etc., but no one is calling me. I have two children to raise and a small pension from the military. I am a student as well so it’s really disheartening not being able to get responses.

  4. Andrew

    I have searched for 6 months. I will complete my master degree in finance next month. I am hoping after with my 5 years experience I can land a decent job. I never imagined finding a job would be so difficult even with my experience and education.

  5. Life isn't good

    Yeah, I think I’m going to give up looking. Only got a job by applying randomly once. That was probably my only freebie in life. The other times I knew a guy, but I’ve dried up my resources. Those experiences has been fun but, things aren’t meant to last forever. I just have to figure out how to make money without finding a job, since finding work is NOT an option for me. Again, not by my choice though.

  6. pigbitinmad

    I truly believe your odds of being in a plane crash or the victim of a terrorist attack are much greater than getting hired over 55. And I do shorten my work history (which means I do get interviews). But I am always rejected once they find out how old I am.

    And I cannot answer daft questions like “When was the last time you did something creative?”

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