In today’s economy, it is difficult enough to land a good job without having the extra obstacle of being in recovery.
Many who have struggled with an addiction may have gaps in their employment history. Some may have a criminal record. And often, entering addiction recovery requires lifestyle changes, like changing jobs, to help prevent relapse. For instance, being a bartender or working at a high-stress job is not conducive to recovery. Or, maybe returning to the job you had before treatment is stressful because of the fear of stigma, judgment, or peer pressure.
Work is not only a means of paying bills. Having a meaningful job can lift the spirit and give a sense of purpose.
If you’re considering changing careers or trying to enter the job market with a fresh start, be patient and determined. And remember that while honesty is the foundation for living a clean life, you are not obligated to share your life history when job hunting. Here are the steps to take to secure gratifying employment:
- Resume – Most job applications take place on the internet. If you do not have a computer or internet service, find your local library. Most public libraries have computers that the general public can use. If you have never written a resume, you can google “resume templates” and find a variety to choose from. Write your resume as well as you can according to the job for which you are applying–and ask a trusted friend (preferably one who has an eye for detail) to look it over.
- References – References are necessary for just about every type of employment. If you know your previous employers will give you a good reference, ask them if you can list their contact information on your application. If you don’t have any good work references, supply personal references. For example, maybe you have a friend who has a good reputation at their workplace and can vouch for your work ethic even if you haven’t worked with them directly.
- Education – Now that you are clean and sober, you may be motivated to return to school for a degree or certification that will lead to your dream job. It is never too late to further your education. If cost is intimidating, talk to a financial advisor from the school about grants, student loans, and other forms of financial aid. Even if you have to take a job to “get the bills paid” while attending one or two classes a semester, going back to school can make you feel good about yourself and your new future. It also looks good on your resume!
- Clear Past Criminal Records – It is a good idea to clear any records that you are able to so that you do not have to mention them. If you do have a record, do not lie about it. It is better to a tell a prospective employer about your record than to try to hide it. If a criminal record comes up when they research your background, and you have not been honest about it, you can forget about being hired.
- Employment Agencies – Many upstanding employment agencies are temp-to-hire. This may be a great way to get your foot in the door with a good company and prove yourself.
- Positivity and Patience – Stay positive and try to be patient. Trust in the universe, your higher power, or whatever you believe in that things will work out.
- Your program – Last but certainly not least, once you secure employment, do not put your sobriety on the back shelf. If you have been going to evening meetings and just got a night job, make sure to look for meetings that work around your new schedule, and vice-versa.
If you are having trouble finding employment, here are some places that can help:
- America in Recovery – This is a non-profit organization that will link employers looking for labor and willing to hire those in recovery. It is a free service for both employers and employees.
- National HIRE Network – The HIRE network help people with criminal records to find employment.
- The Department of Labor’s One Stop Career Center – The Department of Labor urges those in recovery to get into contact with their nationwide network of career centers by visiting their service locator.
Don’t give up. If the job you want does not come through, keep on searching! After submitting your applications, be sure to call and express your interest. You will have a job before you know it!