Finding a Career That Works For You

There are no inherently bad jobs for people with ADHD. Here's how to find the best one for you.

Finding a Career That Works For You ADDitude Magazine

Everyone has personal challenges of one sort or another that may interfere with job performance.

There are no ADHD-friendly jobs.

Sorry to be so blunt, but people send email all the time asking "What is a good job for an ADHD person?," as if all people with ADHD have the same interests and abilities. Sorry. Now that we have cleared that up, let's move on.

There are no jobs that ADHD would prevent someone from doing. Just as there is no one "perfect" job that fits all ADHD people, there is also no limit to the things that an ADHD person can accomplish. For example, the idea that someone with ADHD should avoid detail work such as accounting simply is not true. There are accountants who have ADHD. There may be other reasons why you can't bean accountant, or a salesman, or a respiratory therapist, but being ADHD is not one of them.

"Everyone has personal challenges of one sort or another that may interfere with job performance," says Wilma Fellman, a career counselor and author of the book Finding a Career That Works for You. "Instead of tossing aside an otherwise great idea for a career because of the threat of challenges, work with someone who can help develop strategies, modifications, and accommodations that might make it a good match for you."

In other words, don't give up.

Find Out What You Want To Do

Much has been written about job accommodations for people who have ADHD. In fact, ADHD is included in the American's with Disabilities Act, which means that employers are required to provide "reasonable accommodations" for those who have been diagnosed. Of course, getting accommodations from your employer means that you have to tell them about your ADHD, which may create more problems than it solves. Some people who disclose their ADHD find that their employers perception of them changes almost immediately, and not always for the better.

Rather than depending on someone else to provide accommodations for you, Fellman recommends being more proactive and choosing a career that works for you. "Understanding your career interests and finding a job that matches these interests will improve your chances of being happy and successful in the career you select," she says.

A lot of the problems that ADHD people have as students comes about because we are forced to sit in classes that either don't hold our interest or don't match up well with our abilities. Why force yourself into a career that is just more of the same? Adults have more freedom than children. You don't have to feel like a square peg being hammered into a round hole.

How many careers can you name? A dozen? Maybe 100, if you really try? The Dictionary of Occupational Titles, published by the U.S.Department of Labor, lists over 27,000 occupations, covering nearly all job descriptions available in the United States. Many of these are jobs you probably never heard of and certainly haven't considered as a possible career. But they exist, and you would probably be interested in several of them, if you knew you had those options.

Turning Things Around

If you have AD/HD, then you know that it affects your behavior and your abilities to do certain things. On the job, ADHD can show up as clowning around, not appearing to take things seriously, missed deadlines or in other ways that could cause potential problems between you and your employer.

Lynn Weiss, Ph.D., author of A.D.D. On The Job, believes that many of these behaviors can be used to work in your favor in the workplace. "Remember," she says, "although your ADD-related behaviors can cause problems in a work environment, they can also be used in a constructive way to your advantage."

As an example, Dr. Weiss talks about being extra sensitive to criticism, a trait that is very common among people who have ADHD. "Being hypersensitive is difficult and sometimes painful. But it does have a flip side that can serve as a tremendous asset for you in the workplace: a keen sense of intuition." She continues: "Most of the business world's top salespeople have good intuition, often called a gut-level feeling. For example, successful salespeople seem to just know with whom to spend their time, when to close a deal, and what the other person needs in order to be satisfied. Believing in and depending on this sense of intuition pays rich dividends."

Again, successful ADHD people are those who have learned to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. These people don't force themselves into a positions that don't fit. Instead, they find or create situations that allow them to make the most of their abilities.

Jeffrey Mayer, author of Success is a Journey, Time Management for Dummies, and other books about succeeding in business, writes that all successful people share five characteristics:

  1. They have a dream.
  2. They have a plan.
  3. They have specific knowledge or training.
  4. They're willing to work hard.
  5. They don't take no for an answer.

You can find a career that works for you. Now, just go do it!

TAGS: Focus at Work, ADHD Career Paths

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