These skills included identifying negative thoughts and countering them with more positive responses and planning enjoyable activities to improve the mood.

This study is the first to show that cognitive behavioural (CB) skills not only predict changes in depression symptoms, but also real life functioning, said co-author of the study Daniel Strunk, associate professor of psychology at The Ohio State University in the US.

"Searching for a job is difficult in any circumstance, but it may be even more difficult for people who are depressed," Strunk said.

"But we found that there are specific skills that can help not only manage the symptoms of depression but also make it more likely that a person will receive a job offer,"  Strunk noted.

The study involved 75 unemployed people, aged 20 to 67, who participated in two online surveys taken three months apart.

About a third of the sample reported symptoms that would put them in the moderately to seriously depressed category, although they were not formally diagnosed. The remaining two-thirds had scores that ranged from mild depression to no symptoms.

The results showed that participants who reported more use of cognitive behavioural skills were more likely to show an improvement in depressive symptoms in the three months between the surveys -- and were more likely to report they had received a job offer.

The findings appeared in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

"The people who got jobs in our study were more likely to be putting into practice the skills that we try to teach people in cognitive therapy," Strunk explained.

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