February 6, 2011

Job Searching, ADHD Style

It has been 10 weeks since I posted last - I took a bit of a break from writing to focus on work issues. I left my job working at a broadcast company, and am lucky enough to have received a package which will help me through for a while, while I looked for another job. The holidays were nice, and I got to spend a lot of time with my wife and our little boy, who turned 2 last week.

Recently, I somewhat presciently wrote about Adult ADHD jobs and workplace issues. There I wrote about how impulsivity, distractibility and hyperactivity can be difficult traits to have at work, and how these symptoms can have a negative impact on you.

The feedback I got on that post was heartening, and many people added comments about their own experiences. This is what I love about writing this blog - it is a place to connect with people who share similar experiences. Hearing about this makes my journey a less lonely one.

I'll say this: Looking for a job is a full-time job! I used various job search web sites, used LinkedIn.com a whole lot (feel free to connect with me there and note that Mungo is my nom de plume), and followed a colleague's advice to network, network, and network some more on LinkedIn. In the end, this is what got me connected to an agency which found me a contract position. I am starting Monday.

A job gives me daily structure. So does having a little boy who wakes up before 6 quite often, and has to get to daycare, and have his dinner and bath and bed time at a regular time. External structure is critical to me, so I have learned and viscerally learned and relearned over the past year. So having a regular 9 to 5 job is important.

When looking for a job, it is important to maintain a sense of schedule. Try to keep your days scheduled. You may need to have a few pajama-days, and take-it-easy days - because often it is hard to leave the job search when the 5 o'clock whistle blows... but try to have breaks. Go easy on yourself. Expect a roller coaster of emotions. Expect disappointment and strong emotions to arise and fade away as you attend interviews, get rejection notices, don't hear back, and heal from wounds from your previous job experience.

Connect with friends and family. Try to be open about your feelings about the job search. Accept advice and help.

Sometimes you will be called for job interviews for a job you know at a gut level isn't right for you. Attend it anyway, if you can. Interview experience is important. You often will learn something from each interview. It might be a question you didn't anticipate, and end up thinking about afterward. It may be your gut reaction to an interviewer or the location - you'll learn better to trust your instincts about whether you want to work for this person and company or not. You'll learn better how to dress for an interview. And so much more.

I found organizing my interviews and scheduling follow up calls and e-mails difficult. I used my Google Calendar to post reminders and the second I got an interview or a pre-screening call scheduled, I would add it to my calendar. If I didn't, I might end up writing it on a scrap of paper and then forgetting as I tend to get quickly distracted and leave my thoughts behind as I move on to the next thing...

Read books on ADHD to help you keep coping mechanisms in mind. The book I'm reading currently is Taking Charge of Adult ADHD by Dr. Russell Barkley. This is probably my favourite book so far on Adult ADHD (I own and have read about a dozen books in the past year since my diagnosis). I can't recommend this book enough - every adult with ADHD should read this great source.

Try to take some time for yourself. Go for walks or go and see a movie. Be kind to yourself.

I am really relieved to be starting my job on Monday. It will be an exciting role. I incorporated myself as part of the process to work on contract through an agency - it pays better that way, and I can write off certain expenses. That was a process which my lovely wife helped me with - she is really good at organizing and at paperwork. She helped me enormously through the past couple of months, and I thank her very much.

Take care everyone and be well.



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  1. Congratulations on your new job Simon!!! Good luck tomorrow on your first day.

  2. Great post, Mungo. Well-written and insightful.

    I, too, am a fan of Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. It has great advice for everyone who wants to sharpen "executive functioning" in life, IMHO, ADHD or not.

    I hope you enjoy your new job!


  3. P.S. And kudos to your wife! As well as your collaboration with her on organizing, etc. Nothing beats teamwork!

  4. Mungo, my dear, what is it with you and your timely advice? Honestly, it's almost unnerving. I am currently looking for jobs, although I am already employed. I am at the end of my degree and am in the process of applying to school boards for teaching positions.

    I especially appreciated your advice on attending interviews for jobs that you don't think would really work for you. There are several school boards where all I can think is "Why would I want to teach there? It's miles from civilization!" But the interview experience is definitely worth it, I agree. :)

    Russel Barkley is a god among men in the area of ADHD research. I have had the privilege of attending one of his seminars on ADHD here in Edmonton. I think it took me the first five minutes to stop being star struck and start listening! LOL As soon as I land one of those teaching positions I talked about I will definitely pick that one up. In the meantime, I will simply be grateful for the invention of libraries.

    Belated happy birthday to your little one~!

  5. Good Stuff! I'm in a similar boat as "Jay Bird" although mine is a bit more urgent. I am employed and being politely asked to leave within 3-5 months. I have a hard time juggling a family with 3 small kids (all 4 and under), the job, my relationship with my wife, and finding the time and attention span to "work" on finding a new job, not only a new job but one that I will like. That right there has been the problem my whole life. I have had 11 jobs in 12 years!! I have an MBA and a CPA license but this accounting stuff is really taking its toll on me. Keep up the good work Mungo!

  6. Congrats...I liked the candor with which you answered the interviewer's question about what won't work for you at a job. Good for you for being honest.

  7. Congratulations on your new job Simon!!! Good luck tomorrow on your first day.

  8. Thank you so, so very much!!! I have been searching for a job for a total of six months (three of them spent in the UK, where I had completed my Master's) and three of them here at home, in California. Living with my parents (in the guest house) is so demoralizing. I find myself struggling to keep motivation as I find it so hard to keep applying when I get rejected. But, I need to remind myself that I have only sent a handful of applications, so being rejected for three jobs is not something that I should let get to me. Thank you for this well written post. I really needed it!!! I added it to my Google drive, and am going to print it out!!! Thanks!

  9. I come from a family with many children/adults with ADHD so I am pretty good at recognizing adults that have it. I started with a direct sales company and noticed at our last convention that most of the top leaders definitely have ADHD and they talked about their struggles with school and holdng down 9 – 5 jobs. I realized that direct sales/flexible schedule/commission based jobs are great for people with ADHD. I then did research and found this article from Healthline (http://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/best-jobs#Entrepreneur7) on the 10 best jobs for people with ADHD and found numbers 4, 7, and 8 all related to direct sales. I have made it the “why” of my business to help people with ADHD find successful jobs that they are passionate about and are compensated well for their energy and creativity.


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