Life After Rehab – The Job Hunt

Getting sober is a full time job, but once you’ve finished treatment and have to go out into the real world, you’ll have new challenges to face—like getting a job. Getting on with your career is an important part of maintaining a sober lifestyle.

Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have your old job waiting for you, an understanding boss and a crew of sympathetic co-workers who are happy you’re back, but too many recovering addicts have to face the prospect of looking for work. Here are some tips on landing that job.

Think positive

The most important thing you need is a positive attitude. Remind yourself that you have talents and have succeeded in the past, so you can do it again. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by failures and missteps—you didn’t get every job you applied for in the past, did you? Sure, you’ve made some mistakes and probably burned some bridge but you need to keep looking to the future.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

If you find out that job you wanted so badly went to someone else, you’re bound to feel discouraged, but nobody can win all the time. Above all, don’t blame your not getting this job on your past behavior. What’s past is past and you can’t change it, so you might as well look ahead. A much better opportunity could turn up tomorrow, or next week or next month.

Stick with it

The process of getting sober should have taught you perseverance, and now you need to apply that dedication to finding a job. Even people with no substance problems find job hunting stressful, time consuming and frustrating. Remind yourself that the struggles you’ve endured have made you stronger.

Work on your image

Like it or not, job hunters are judged by first impressions. Work on the visual component of your image by sprucing up your appearance. Have your hair styled, and go for a look that’s current but not too trendy. Buy a good suit just for interviews and keep it cleaned and pressed at all times, so you’ll be ready for a last-minute meeting. Be sure your shoes are polished and always have a clean shirt in the closet. Ladies, your makeup should be flattering but not overdone.

Always project poise and confidence, even when you’re scared witless. Work on your posture and presentation. Smile and make eye contact. Have a firm handshake. Never act desperate. Don’t let them see you sweat.

Learn new skills

Our grandparents had the option of graduating from high school or college, going straight into the workforce and never having to pick up any new skills. We don’t have that luxury, and most of us have to master new tricks to get and keep the jobs of today. If you have time on your hands, check out the classes available at the local community college. You never know when being adept at a certain area of expertise will land you the job you want.

 Use your contacts

If you’ve been avoiding friends, relatives or former co-workers while you struggled with your addiction, it’s time to come out of your shell. Reconnect with those who have been positive influences in the past and request their help with your job hunt.

You may be pleasantly surprised at the encouragement you get, and you never know when a friend of a friend will supply a promising job lead. Those old friends can also help by keeping you in a positive frame of mind and reminding you of your prior achievements.

Of course, you also have old “friends” who will sabotage your sobriety, such as those people you run with, now is the perfect time to get them out of your life. Don’t let those people take up valuable space inside your head or influence your decision to be sober.

 Be prepared for the tough questions

If you lost your last job due to an arrest or DUI, you definitely face some obstacles. There will be some areas of employment from which you will be barred and others where your record will make you a less desirable candidate. You need to be ready to answer questions about these problems honestly and state the facts.

You must be honest about your past on your job application. While it may seem tempting to try covering up the less savory details of your life, lying isn’t worth it. Those lies will come back to haunt you later, so it’s better to come clean up front and hope for an employer who will look at your potential rather than your past.

Avoid jobs or fields that could cause you to relapse

You need a job that pays your bills and hopefully, provides a pleasant work environment. What you don’t need is a job where your coworkers come to work high or openly use drugs at the office. At least in the beginning, look for a low-stress job, not one where the boss will scream all the time and demand more than you can give. You may need to take a job that’s a bit boring at first, just to get back into the swing of working, but when you’ve added to your resume and are getting more interesting offers, it’s time to move on.

The ideal job

The perfect job for a recovering addict is one that lets you ease back into the marketplace but also provides career growth and progress. It should give you the opportunity to work with happy, positive people and allow you time to attend 12-step meetings and therapy sessions while taking care of your health.

The future is bright

Looking for a job is never easy, and it’s even more challenging in the current economic climate. You can expect to answer a lot of ads, go on a lot of interviews and face a lot of rejection. Achieving and maintaining sobriety is a major accomplishment. Having done that makes you stronger, smarter and more confident than you were before. Use that experience and the knowledge you have gained to move into the next phase of your career—and your life.

The perfect job is out there—so go for it!

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