Many adults with ADHD face similar challenges when entering (or re-entering) the workforce. These can include a history of:
- “Job-hopping” – having worked many different jobs, staying at each for only a short period of time
- Poor performance at and even dropping out of secondary school, college, or university (see section on ADHD and Adult Students)
- Poor interview skills
- Struggling to find the right kind of job
- Being fired
If this sounds familiar, don’t lose hope – there are many resources available to you and strategies that you can implement to help in finding and keeping a job that’s right for you.
Finding the Right Job
Tips for finding the right job when you have adult ADHD
- Assess and understand how your specific ADHD symptoms affect you, especially how they impact the way you interact with the world around you:
- Identify your areas of strength as well as the things you enjoy doing
- Identify your areas of weakness and the tasks you dislike
- Research jobs that play to your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses. This will help greatly to better your chances of finding the right job.
- For example, if you tend to be hyperactive, work that involves physical activity might be better for you than a sedentary office job.
- If you have a history of job-hopping (see below) or job loss, try to find a common reason why these jobs didn’t work out. What aspects of past jobs were a good fit for you?
Overcoming Your Job History
Overcoming a history of poor on-the-job performance, jobhopping, and getting fired
Due to the symptoms associated with adult ADHD, job-hopping as well as job loss is not uncommon. When it comes time to apply for a new job, many people in this situation will be faced with explaining to a potential employer why they have had so many jobs.
Some suggestions for addressing this question include:
- Taking ownership for what happened (it is your choice whether to disclose that you have ADHD – see Should I Tell My Employer I Have ADHD?):
- You can explain that you have carefully assessed your strengths and weaknesses and now see your career differently.
- Before, you didn't realize which type of job was a good fit for your strengths.
- Sometimes it can be helpful to explain that now that you are “a little older and wiser”:
- You have learned a lot of lessons from working all those jobs.
- You know better what you are looking for, which is why you have decided on a new career.
- It is very important not to talk poorly of former bosses or get negative about your past during an interview.
- Be ready to explain (sell!) your strengths.
Keeping a Job
Keeping a job
- Once you have a job, identifying potential challenges as well as the aspects of your job that you enjoy or excel at is very important.
- The next step is to learn strategies for effectively managing your ADHD symptoms in the workplace and working together with your employer to implement any changes necessary. See the section on Tips For Employees with Adult ADHD for more information on this topic.
Remember, it is important to see a health care professional if you suspect that you might have undiagnosed adult ADHD. They will work together with you to help develop tactics and get you onto an effective treatment plan.
Myth:People with ADHD simply don’t want to focus or complete tasks that they don’t enjoy.
Fact:People with ADHD find it difficult to regulate their attention. They are not just distracted or absentminded. Others may misconstrue the ability of someone with ADHD to “hyperfocus” on a highly stimulating task (like a video game) for hours as an example that the person can focus, but lacks willpower. Being unable to break or prioritize focus is a core symptom of ADHD.