Like any significant life transition, finding employment during your recovery journey can feel intimidating at times. The good news is, a little anxiety associated with the uncertainty of finding a job is to be expected, and can even serve as a catalyst to propel you forward. And like other situations that involve elements of the unknown, one of the best ways to navigate those uncharted waters is to break the bigger task down into manageable steps.
What follows is a potential blueprint to help you consider what type of job you might like and lay out a plan to “get the job” while still accommodating your recovery goals.
Step 1: Sit down and think about what kind of job you’d like to do.
Are you looking for full- or part-time employment? (It’s often a good idea to start at part-time with the possibility of increasing to full-time once you’ve adapted to your new routine.) What kind of schedule would best fit your needs? For those in recovery, a position with a predictable schedule and stable income is typically recommended to avoid any unnecessary stress that can be associated with commission-based jobs or those with nontraditional hours such as the graveyard shift.
Step 2: Prepare a resume and cover letter.
If you’re not sure what kinds of information to integrate in your resume, your local library or county career center can help. Or if you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, there are a number of career websites available with valuable tips and sometimes even a template that lets you enter your relevant career information and then formats it for you. Today, a number of job search engines will ask you to create a profile, enter your career information and job history, and then share those details with potential employers. Look for the most popular job boards such as CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, GlassDoor, and Indeed, as well as any industry-specific sites.
Although possibly not one of the more exciting parts of the job search, this is a critical step. Keep in mind that most employers will spend up to one minute scanning each resume, so you want to do what you can to make sure yours looks professional and conveys the information clearly and concisely. Whenever possible, it’s also a good idea to have a friend or family member proofread your work to look for typos or misspellings.
Step 3: Get ready for the interview process.
Once you’ve been notified that a potential employer wants to schedule an initial interview, do some research into the company and the position itself. Remember the interview is also your opportunity to learn more about the organization and what your day-to-day would look like.
Search online for common interview questions and rehearse your responses. Be prepared to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, and think about whether or not you want to mention your recovery. You’re not legally obligated to bring it up, but if you want to, consider how much you want to share and how you want to talk about it.
On the day of the interview, you’ll want to:
- Show up 5-10 minutes early.
- Dress appropriately for the position you’re interested in.
- Bring along the list of questions you’ve prepared.
- Be honest about what you hope to accomplish in this position.
- Avoid speaking negatively about any previous jobs or employers.
- Be prepared to discuss your strengths and weaknesses.
Step 4: Follow up.
After the interview, email or — if you really want to stand out — hand-write a thank you note to show appreciation to the interviewer for their time. Make it personal by mentioning something you learned about during your meeting, and close with an uplifting and positive thought such as “I look forward to learning more about XYZ Company.”
Finding a job can feel like a full-time job on its own. It takes a lot of time, research, and energy, and sometimes it’s a numbers game, so try to get several resumes sent out each day to improve your chances of finding the right job for you. Acknowledge feelings of anxiety but also try to see the task at hand as an exciting time in your life, an opportunity to find a fresh start and support your recovery efforts with a stable, rewarding position that’s an investment in your future just as sobriety is an investment in your health and well-being.