If you’re like many people who recently completed an inpatient program at a drug treatment center, one of your top priorities after rehab will be finding a job.
Rest assured that you’re not alone in your new job search. Diving back into the job market can feel intimidating for a person in recovery. It’s understandable to assume that certain barriers stand in the way, such as:
- Having a gap in employment history due to going away for treatment
- Feeling uncertain about revealing past substance abuse
- Worrying about discrimination from potential employers
But according to a 2012 survey, more than 23 million adults – 10 percent of the U.S. population – consider themselves to be in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. Plenty of individuals have gone on to lead successful lives and work in careers they enjoy after rehab. In addition, many companies today are open to hiring candidates with previous drug or alcohol issues.
You don’t have to let your recovery get in the way of your professional goals and aspirations. As long as you stay on top of your sobriety and take good care of yourself, the job or career you want will be well within reach.
Job Searching Tips for People in Recovery
Before you start scouring job boards on the Internet or highlighting newspaper classifieds, it’s important to start with the foundation of every job search – your resume. Make sure it’s updated with your most recent job experience, as well as the highest level of education you’ve completed. If you don’t have a resume or unsure of where to start, enlist a family member or friend to help. Many communities also have workforce coalitions that can help with resume writing.
Once your resume is squared away, you can develop a plan for the types of jobs you’d like to apply for. This is a great time to assess your past job history and ask yourself questions, like:
- What did I like about my last job? Were there things I didn’t like?
- If I had the chance to take my previous job back, would I?
- What skills do I have that can provide value to a career field I’m interested in?
- What do I see myself doing in the next five to ten years?
While applying to every job listing may be tempting, it’s best to focus on jobs that fit your skill set and needs during recovery. Picking just “any job” may lead to unwanted stress that could trigger a relapse. When you’re skimming through job listings, keep an eye out for the following criteria:
Clear and reasonable expectations
You should know exactly what the jobs entail after reading the description. Go with your gut — if the job isn’t what you’re looking for, move on.
Structured duties and working environment
Many people in recovery find that they thrive in jobs with a set routine. High-stress jobs with tight, changing deadlines are often not the best fit.
Starting small can be a good thing if there’s plenty of room for growth in a company. If you’re applying for jobs in a new field, an internship or volunteer position can get your foot in the door.
If you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed by your search, don’t worry. There are plenty of professional opportunities out there for people in recovery. Eventually, the right job will come along, but remember that it might take some time. Like all good things that are worth having in life, you’ll need to be patient throughout the process.
Resources for Recovering Job Seekers
If you need extra assistance during your job search, there are several organizations and programs that can help.
America in Recovery is one such organization that assists people who struggle to find employment because of their substance abuse history. Their online job board matches candidates with companies that believe in giving second chances. The National Hire Network is another resource that helps individuals with criminal records find jobs in their community.
Other programs dedicated to helping people in recovery gain employment include:
- The Department of Labor One Stop Career Center
- The National Skills Coalition
- The Salvation Army
- Unemployment offices
- Temp agencies
Building Success After Finding a Job
So you’ve landed your first job after rehab? Congratulations! You’ve worked hard to get to this point and your efforts should be commended.
Once you’ve secured your position, it’s important to deliver the promises you made to your new employer. The best way to do that is by fully dedicating yourself to your recovery. Some ways you can do this is by:
- Maintaining a professional image. Dress appropriately for your job and be sure to stay neatly groomed.
Getting to know your coworkers. Showing interest in your new colleagues creates a great first impression.
Offering your help on projects. This shows initiative that your bosses will be sure to notice.
Attending company events. Being part of the team on and off the clock shows you’re a committed and engaged employee.
Continuing with your recovery.Take care of yourself by regularly attending counseling sessions and support group meetings.
For many people fresh out of rehab, it’s tough finding a new normal and adjusting to regular life again. However, re-entering the workforce can help a person in recovery in so many ways. A new job gives a person in recovery a newfound sense of purpose and responsibility. They know there are coworkers and bosses that are counting on them to do good work. In turn, a person in recovery understands that in order to succeed at their job, they’ll need to maintain their sobriety.
Managing a new job and everything else in your life after recovery may seem like an uphill battle at times. In the end, a healthy, happy and substance-free life will be well worth the journey.