Recovery is a time of new beginnings, which often includes finding new employment after leaving residential treatment.
Although people in the early stages of recovery do face some challenges when it comes finding suitable work, launching a successful job search will be easier if you remember these seven tips.
1. Think Carefully About What Type of Job You Want
No matter how eager you are to get back to work, your job search must be approached with care. Instead of blindly applying to any opening you see, think about what type of work you’d enjoy. This could be a position in a field you’ve previously worked in or something that’s entirely new. Transferable skills, such as leadership, public speaking, and project management, can be applied to positions in a wide range of industries.
Aside from considering your interests and skills, you should also think about how work will fit in with your recovery efforts. Stress is a common trigger for relapse, so avoiding fast paced and high-pressure positions might be best for maintaining your sobriety. Working in environments where you have easy access to alcohol or illegal substances, such as at a popular bar or nightclub, may also be a bad idea. If you need to attend therapy appointment regularly, a place with some scheduling flexibility might be necessary.
2. Present Your Background Effectively
Taking time to craft an attention-getting cover letter and a polished resume can pay off in a big way. Focus on the unique assets you have to offer the company, including technical skills such as proficiency in a specific software program as well as “soft skills” such as teamwork or customer service.
If you’re worried about gaps in your employment, formatting your resume strategically can help camouflage this issue. Some tips that might be of help include:
- You only need to provide the last 10-15 years of work experience.
- Place your education above your work history if you’ve recently gone back to school or your degree is a stronger selling point than your past work experience.
- Short term or temporary jobs can be omitted if you don’t believe they are relevant.
- Simply listing the year of employment is acceptable if you have positions that are less than 12 months in length.
- Placing your job title or employer’s name in a bold or larger font can help camouflage a stint of short-term positions.
- Using a functional resume format instead of a chronological listing of your work history may be more effective if you have longer gaps in employment.
3. Build Your Confidence
Being in recovery is a huge accomplishment, but it’s natural to feel uncertain about what you have to offer during the job hunting process. Practicing answering common interview questions with a friend or your 12-Step sponsor can help boost your confidence.
Your local Workforce Development office may hold workshops that provide a chance to polish your interviewing skills. Community colleges, alumni groups, and nonprofit organizations that work with low-income individuals may also have career search resources available.
4. Know Your Rights
Although you may find it necessary to disclose some of your recovery-related information, your status as someone with a substance use disorder is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, the law does not protect anyone who is currently abusing alcohol or drugs.
If you’re worried about a criminal record related to your past substance abuse, keep in mind that expungement may be possible for certain offenses. If you are allowed to have your record expunged, offenses will not show up on a background check.
5. Think Outside the Box
If you’re struggling to find suitable work, there’s nothing wrong with a “for now” job. A part-time position unrelated to your field can still help alleviate some of the financial pressure you may be facing while giving you confidence in your ability to stick to a daily routine.
Supplementing your income with a “side hustle” is another option to consider. If you have skills in an area such as bookkeeping, web design, or marketing, you may be able to pick up freelance projects from the comfort of your own home. Housecleaning, babysitting, dog walking, or landscaping are also projects that translate well into picking up extra income.
6. Expand Your Skill Set
If you’ve been out of work for quite some time, you may need to refresh your skills to become a more competitive candidate. A commitment to lifelong learning is rapidly becoming expected in many industries, even for people who are not in recovery.
Earning a degree is certainly an option, but taking a few continuing education classes is often a very effective way to boost your resume. Volunteering at a nonprofit can also help expand your skills while giving you a chance to make professional connections with people who might be able to assist in your job search.
7. Make Time for Self-Care
Self-care is a vital part of the recovery process, especially when you’re dealing with stressful situations such as job hunting. Making time to eat nutritious food, exercise, and engage in hobbies that you enjoy will stabilize your mood and leave you better equipped to handle the challenge of finding suitable employment.
Writing in a journal is one self-care activity that can be particularly beneficial during your job search. Journal entries can help you explore your interests and better understand what type of job is best suited for your unique needs.