It's time to start taking the first steps into the world of employment, and there are many questions you may have about getting back into the workforce. It's frightening, exciting, and ultimately rewarding. Taking that first step, though, is no easy feat. There are many things to consider, like how much you should disclose about your past successes and failures to an employer, what kind of job is best to get involved with at first, and whether or not it's even a good idea to work at all, considering the addictive nature of what got you into recovery in the first place.
If you or your loved one are looking for meaning, purpose, or monetary means after recovery, consider the following when finding gainful employment during or after a rehab program.
Take a Look At Your Resume
Before you jump into job applications, you should always consider whether your resume needs an update. Updates can include employment history, but if you’ve been away from the workforce for some time, you should consider updating new skills that you’ve learned in addiction therapy that may apply to future work.
Use this time to self-reflect and highlight whatever skills you’ve cultivated during treatment. This could be stronger communication skills, work ethic, or enhanced decision-making. It’s important to be clear about any employment gaps that you may have on your resume. If you don’t remember certain details about those gaps, that’s okay! Ask a family member or friend to help you recall details you might have missed.
Ask Yourself the “Tough” Questions
As you begin interviewing with potential employers, be sure to ask yourself the tough questions after! Yes, the ultimate goal is to find a job that benefits you, your family, and even your community. But if you’re risking relapse due to stress or unhappiness, you may not be ready to take this big step. Ask yourself the questions below and be honest with your answers.
- How will you balance work and recovery?
- Are you able to handle the triggers that employment will bring?
- Are you being patient with yourself?
Keep Checking In With Yourself
Job rejection is tough for everyone, but it can be triggering for those who are trying their best to get back to a new normal. Don’t expect to get your work-life back precisely as it was before your addiction took hold. Whether you’ve been out of the workforce for a month or years, the working world may have changed since the last time you were within it, and it will continue changing.
Reentering the workforce is bound to affect everyone differently. As much as it can be tempting to throw yourself into finding a new career, it can also mean less time to check in with yourself. Make sure to strike a balance between setting goals for finances and setting goals for your continued mental well-being. When checking in with yourself, ask:
- Am I feeling a normal or elevated level of stress right now?
- Do I need to take a break for my mental well-being?
- Am I placing too much pressure on myself?
- Am I having trouble sleeping because of this?
- Have I taken advantage of the resources that are available to me?
If you are feeling elevated stress and anxiety due to a job search, be sure to talk to your family, friends, and counselors about what’s going on. Be honest with where you’re at, and always ensure you’re doing what you need to care for your mental and physical well-being at all times.
When Should You Disclose?
Having concerns about being discriminated against because of addiction, you’re not alone. Facing potential judgment from employers and peers isn’t something anyone wants to worry about, but it is a reality. It is possible for employers will be prejudiced in their hiring practices. Because of this, it’s important to know your Federal civil rights laws, the ones that will protect you from discrimination against having a substance disorder.
It’s entirely up to you to disclose a previous substance abuse disorder. You are not required to, but many individuals see the importance of being honest through recovery by being honest about the past. How should you do it? If you disclose your recovery journey to an employer, speak with your counselor or therapist first. Running through different scenarios of what could happen can make you feel more comfortable and confident sharing your story if that’s what you choose to do.