Living and working with ADHD can be challenging, especially if you’re in a role that doesn’t play to your strengths.
ADHD symptoms vary from person to person, and may include inattentive symptoms, hyperactivity symptoms or both.
For many people with ADHD, managing time, sticking to deadlines and staying focused at work can be tricky. Others may grapple with boredom, staying motivated and procrastination.
Misunderstandings and miscommunications at work can also have an impact on your relationships with your boss and colleagues.
On the flipside, ADHD brains have a lot to offer the workplace. From creativity and problem solving skills, to infectious energy and charisma or the ability to think fast in high pressure environments.
Whatever your strengths are, there are jobs out there where you can thrive. There is also support and funding to help you succeed in the workplace.
Here are 5 tips to find and keep a job with ADHD:
What jobs are right for you?
When you’re in a job that plays to your strengths, it can be easier to feel confident and stay motivated. Understanding your strengths, challenges and limitations is the first step to finding a job that’s a good fit for you.
Start by answering questions like:
- What am I good at doing?
- What skills do I have?
- What qualifications and training do I have?
- What am I passionate about?
- What are my weaknesses and biggest challenges?
- What environments do I work best in?
Although everyone has different needs when it comes to work, the best jobs for people with ADHD tend to be flexible and full of variety.
For some people, structured environments with a clear routine and expectations help them stay focused and productive. For others, a highly flexible schedule which allows you to work independently brings out their strengths.
When thinking about what types of jobs are right for you, it might help to get input from people who know you well. You can also talk to an employment consultant who can help you discover job types and career pathways you might not have considered before.
Tailoring your resume
Your resume is often the first formal encounter you have with an employer, so it’s important to make a good impression. Instead of sending all employers the same resume and cover letter, you should tailor your documents for the particular job you’re applying for.
Include information, skills and qualities that are relevant to the job, and show the employer that you have done your research.
If you’ve had trouble holding down a job or finding work in the past, you may have gaps on your resume. It’s important to be honest about employment gaps, but you don’t need to go into any personal details.
Keep an upbeat, positive tone and focus on the skills and experience you can bring to the role. If you did any study, volunteering, work experience or skills training during the gaps, be sure to include these on your resume.
Getting support to find a job
Finding a job can be emotionally draining, especially if you’ve experienced setbacks before. If you’re having trouble finding work, it’s important to reach out for help.
There are several government-funded programs that help find jobs for people with an injury, illness or disability, including ADHD and mental health conditions.
You can ask Centrelink to refer you to an employment program such as Disability Employment Services or Workforce Australia. Or you can contact a local provider directly for more information.
Through these programs, you can get tailored support at no cost for things like:
- Career advice and planning
- Finding job opportunities
- Work experience
- Writing your resume
- Preparing for interviews
- Ongoing workplace support
Managing your ADHD at work
When issues like time management, disorganisation and procrastination get out of hand, it can lead to stress at work. But having the right tools and coping strategies in place can help you feel more confident and in-control. It’s also important to know when and who to ask for help if you’re finding it hard to cope.
Talk with your doctor, therapist or employment consultant to develop coping strategies that work for you. Examples include:
- Using noise cancelling headphones to reduce distractions
- Using scheduling apps and calendars to stay organised
- Doing physical activity everyday to help manage feelings of restlessness and frustration
- Having a healthy sleep routine
- Setting timers to help you move onto the next task
- Requesting clear deadlines from your boss, instead of vague deadlines like ‘when you can’ or ‘as soon as possible’.
Asking for workplace accommodations
You don’t have to tell your employer about your ADHD. However, you might want to talk to your employer about accommodations at work that can help you be more efficient or effective at your job.
In Australia, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace so that employees can do their job safely and properly.
If you need changes in the workplace to help you manage your ADHD and succeed in your role, you can ask your employer directly or get support from an employment services provider.
Reasonable adjustments may include things like:
- Time off for mental health appointments
- Working from home
- Redesigning your workspace
- Flexible start time
You and your employer may even be eligible for funding through the Employment Assistance Fund to make reasonable adjustments at work.
Succeeding at work with ADHD
ADHD can make it challenging to keep up with the demands of a job, but it shouldn’t stop you from reaching your career goals. Many people who live with ADHD succeed in their jobs and have a fulfilling career. In many workplaces, ADHD brains offer unique skills and strengths to the role. With the right coping strategies, accommodations and support, there’s no limit to employment possibilities.