5 Bits of Hard Truth: How Your ADHD Affects Your Career Decisions and Job Search Success
By Lynn Miner-Rosen, M. Ed., ACC
I have had ADHD all my life but was not "officially" diagnosed or "correctly" treated until I was in my late 50s! I always knew that I had a different energy level, super-sensitive and complex emotions, nightly nightmares, and a harder time "fitting in" than the other kids. Since kindergarten, I have been talkative, funny, flirtatious, limber, and had unlimited energy. I did gymnastics, dance, tap, baton twirling, and acting. I had a constant thirst for learning, reading, experiencing, and trying new things (not always safe things)! I danced, and moved A LOT!
Professional Change is Constant In the
context of your entire life, career management,
and job search skills are the MOST important
skills you can ever have or develop. - Martin Yate
Many of the very deep emotions and thoughts I had were not so obvious and were very, very difficult and very traumatic. On the outside, I was a happy, funny, energetic, "cute" girl who laughed a lot; on the inside, I struggled. I can remember those difficult crossroads I had to face alone throughout my life. Therefore, I have a desire to share what I have experienced and learned, so you do not have to feel alone.
The most challenging and life-changing experiences I had almost always had to do with my career, interviews, jobs, or "free time." I know that if I would have had an ADHD coach, I would have been much more open to other opportunities that interested me later. I could have benefitted from working with an ADHD Career Coach to support me and shine in my skin
When I began my career coaching journey ten years ago, I had been “29 years old and holding” for a few years, and was determined to make this my last career change! It was NOT the first time I had come to a "career crossroads" in my own life. However, I was determined to get crystal clear on what I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it, what my future would look like, and how I would get there! I also had to take in the specific challenges ADHD might add to the process.
Whether or not you are diagnosed with ADHD does not matter to me. I have no judgment. But, it is a very different story when you enter the working world. There are laws and rules and bias and judgment by others, to name a few. Dealing with the symptoms of ADHD adds a tiny bit more of a challenge in the working world, but that does NOT mean that you cannot be anything you want to be.
Let’s talk about a few of the more common career management and job search challenges that might be specifically linked to your ADHD, and how you can best handle those challenges.
You Can Do Anything You REALLY Want To Do
It is about your motivation, your knowledge and your perseverance! You CAN do it! But just remember a few of these myths that might be getting in your way:
There is NO such thing as the PERFECT job for someone with ADHD.
Some people LIKE desk jobs!
Just because you are good at arguing does not mean you will make a great lawyer!
Just because you like basketball does not mean you will be good enough to go pro.
There is no such thing as a college "guaranteeing" a job to a student upon graduation.
Here are Lynn’s Top 5 Bits of Hard Truth:
How your ADHD affects your Career Decisions and Job Search Success:
1. There Is No Career Manual or "Quick Answer" for People with ADHD. That is a Myth
There is no "list of jobs" for adults or college students with ADHD. The BEST way for people to learn about all the different jobs is by being curious and doing things that help them learn about careers. Things like shadowing someone on the job for a day, reading to learn more about that profession, or doing an informational interview.
2. YOU Need to Know Your ADHD Symptoms and Exactly How They Affect You
There are many symptoms of ADHD that are unfamiliar to the general public. Many people who reach out to me do not know why they are struggling to make confident decisions about their future. A person with ADD/ADHD might have feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, memory issues, low self-confidence, time management challenges, organizational skills, a fixed mindset, and ruminations of past trauma, all of which are l examples of possible ADHD challenges.
According to Thomas Brown's book: A New Understanding of ADHD in Children and Adults: Executive Functioning Impairments, these are the top executive functions that were designed to assess for executive function impairments:
Attention and focus on tasks or people
Emotion Regulation - able to modulate emotional responses appropriately
Flexibility/Shift - move freely from one situation or activity as the situation demands
Controlling Inhibitions/ Self-restraint: appropriately stop certain behaviors at the proper time, outbursts
Initiation - beginning a task or activity; independently generating ideas
Organization/ Self-organization: keep workspace and materials neat, organized, and easy to access
Planning; anticipating future events, setting goals, carrying out tasks in an orderly fashion
Self-Monitoring - checking your work, assessing performance during or upon completion of a task
Working Memory and accessing recall - holding information in mind (or in a "location") to complete a task or stick with an activity
3. There is NO QUICK FIX!
You will need to do this work and keep exploring who YOU are! Learn about as many careers and jobs as you can on your own! Start young. Be really curious and write things down, so you remember them later. Open your eyes and be super curious about everyone you meet and everything that they do. You can have a 'growth mindset" and do whatever you want to do, but no one will hand it to you and say, "HERE - HERE IS YOUR CAREER PATH." You have to decide.
I have had many clients come to me and say, "Oh, I will just wing it," or "I am just going to throw a net out there and see what bites." That does not work in 2022! This career process takes time and might take a little extra time because of ADHD, but you can do it!
4. You Need to Know Yourself Really Well
It is important to know yourself well. Take time to reflect on your interests, dreams, strengths, inborn talents, motivation, values, skills and abilities! You will have to explain them in a cover letter, resume, interview and your first day on the job! You also need to know what the different jobs are, what they are called and exactly what they do BEFORE you apply!
How do you do that? Well, you can take assessments at a career counselor’s office, ask people what they do, and be curious. Ask your friends and co-workers, keep a journal of your experiences, open your mind to imagine anything and everything, and know that IF you are really motivated to learn, do and experience things, YOU can LEARN TO do almost anything that you want to do.
5. Your job search WILL take time & there is bias in the world of work.
There are people who do not understand what ADHD is, and there are people that will treat you poorly when they find out you have ADHD. They might think you are lazy, or not motivated or organized or whatever…don’t let them get to you! They don’t know your personality, brilliance, empathy, big smiles and pats on the backs of every friend and family member you have! There is a lot of stigma and bias out there. Not everyone grew up learning about neurodiversity or how to work with someone that is not like them.
Keep your head up high. Get out, get up and get going! Take care of yourself!
Exercise, do yoga, walk in nature, drink water, and listen to music to get yourself pumped up again. Then consider working with an ADHD Career Coach as an accountability partner AND your sherpa or guide to prevent you from veering off the path too much or taking a wrong turn, or going up too steep a hill as you climb to the top of the mountain!
I want to know what is YOUR biggest career challenge! Let me know in the comments sections and I will reply!
And don’t forget to grab the
that I created just for you!