A classic ADHD pitfall is job hopping. You are bright and capable so you get hired but after a predicable amount of time has passed, 6 months, 9 months or maybe a year or two, you are bored out of your mind and have to move on or you’ll go crazy.
Let’s say that you have finally found the line of work that suits your ADHD style. You know you are the employee this great company has been waiting for but first you have to submit a resume that will get you an interview. How do you write that resume when you have been a job hopper?
How to get an employer to see you as more than a Job Hopper.
- How you think about yourself – If you have a history of multiple short term jobs because your ADHD won’t allow you to settle down, chances are you’re a damned interesting person. Before tackling another job interview get square with who you are: the amazing, the brilliant and the executive-function impaired. ADHD knocks down self-esteem and you don’t want to take a low self-esteem vibe into the interview. Work with a career counsellor or ADHD life coach who can help you see your strengths and put everything else in its proper perspective. Go into your job interview with your head held high, talents and abilities in the forefront. If you believe in what your have to offer, the interviewer will catch that and the resume won’t matter quite as much.
- Give your resume a unifying story – Finding our way in the world is a process. For the person with ADHD, the process can have more twists and turns. If your resume has seconds to make an impression and screeners are looking at the duration of your previous jobs, select the jobs to go on the resume that best match the work that you are going for. If you are sure that you are made for working at the whole foods emporium, put the jobs on your resume that reflect the kind of work you are likely to be doing; for example, the one having to do with merchandising, or creating sale ads, or customer service. If there are enough to match, the screener will see the story of an employee who has the experience ideally suited to the job.
- How you talk about prior jobs – Spend some time thinking about the jobs that didn’t work out and come up with things you learned from them that helped you better understand what you needed to know for this new job. You want to help the interviewer see that (1) you’ve thought this through; (2) you are determined to make this job work well; and (3) whatever didn’t work before won’t be a problem in this job. Most ADHD career coaches will say that if you have to explain to your perspective employer about your ADHD, it’s probably not the right job for you. Don’t divulge what is not the interviewer’s business but be sincere. Interviewers have great BS detectors. So go back to step #1 and really believe what you’re saying (or find unifying stories you can believe) and believe in yourself!
- Put your cover letter to work – It’s especially important for you as someone with ADHD to find the work best suited to you. But if you have to get work that may not be an ideal match, you can use your cover letter (bullet points help) to point out ways that the things you have done make you uniquely qualified for this new job. Your cover letter works with your resume to make a case for you and your history being a great fit for the company and the job.
- Know your stories of determination and success– ADHDers are likely to forget or dismiss successes. We toss off achievements as just “what I was supposed to do” or “anybody could do that”. Look back at achievements at your former jobs as well as in your life outside of work. Write down a list of 25 or more times when you were successful, determined, honest, conscientious, or went above and beyond. Be ready to share them with the interviewer. Also make it clear that this job is one that you plan to stay with and tell the interviewer why. Executive function isn’t everything. You will have unique gifts to offer an organization that other employees may not have.
- Get support from other places – Who do you know who sees you as you really are and thinks you’re very employable—but not your mom. You’ll improve your chances if you have connections who can help you get in the door – especially if you have a few things in your resume making it harder. When you see a job or company you’re interested in, this is the time to start looking for a possible connection. Friends, family, former colleagues, friends from school – don’t be shy about sending a quick email to find out if they know someone in the company.
Executive function isn’t everything. You will have unique gifts to offer an organization that other employees may not. The ADHD probably won’t go away but you can find a job in which it’s not as much of an issue, possibly even an asset.