ADHD at Work

Looking for Work…in Mismatched Socks

Rock the job interview? I can barely remember to wear matching socks. But I’m getting there, with or without adult ADHD.

Man with ADHD applying to job on computer surrounded by papers and holding coffee
Man with ADHD applying to job on computer surrounded by papers and holding coffee

Get a job.

Those three little words make me perspire. A job search sounds like a big project to an adult with ADHD. It sounds as if it might involve sitting in a small room with a necktie constricting my airflow, trying my best to explain the holes in my résumé while worrying that the interviewer will notice my day-old stubble and the fact that I’m wearing one black and one blue sock.

Imagining that job interview is unpleasant enough, but what really paralyzes me is thinking of all the preliminary work I have to do to even land an interview.

Looking through the want ads is the first challenge. “There’s so much stuff here,” I muse as I scan the newspaper classifieds. “Hey, here’s the sports section.” Half an hour later, I’m up to date on the problems facing the Yankees’ pitching staff, but I have a vague sense that I’m doing something wrong. “Why did I open this newspaper? Why would I open a newspaper? Oh, yeah. Writing isn’t paying the bills, so I’m taking my formidable theater-arts degree and hitting the job market.”

[Self-Test: Inattentive ADHD Symptoms in Adults]

Returning to the classifieds, I’m again overwhelmed. At first, I seem qualified for everything. I circle about 80 percent of the postings: 56 in all, including one promising ad for a long-haul truck driver. But when I flip back through the ads, I realize I’m not qualified for anything. Long-haul trucker? With my addictive personality, I’d be popping caffeine pills all the way from Albuquerque to Roanoke. I think not.

This is when I realize that the paper I’m holding is two weeks old. I locate the current one, and again proceed to circle about 80 percent of the postings.

The second challenge is constructing a coherent résumé. First, I check my paper files for old résumés. “Hmmm, I thought I had a Job file. Maybe it’s in my Records file. Hmmm, I thought I had a Records file.” I begin to leaf through the massive stack on my desk. Just as I’m marveling at this leaning tower of paper, it surrenders to gravity.

I survey the mess, and decide to redirect my search to my computer files. “Ah, ‘Résumé/Office.’ That must be the one!” But it appears that I accidentally saved over that file with information relating to a job selling frozen food door to door in 100-degree Texas heat. Painstakingly, I recreate my résumé, making sure to leave out any jobs that didn’t last longer than eight hours. I look it over, and get ready for bed.

[Your Free Guide to Choosing Your Best Career]

Leaving the house is challenge number three. As I head for the door, I realize that the résumé I’ve grabbed contains a lot of highlighted and crossed-out text. This doesn’t look like a final draft. Did I make a final draft? Did I dream that I revised my résumé? That would be a pretty weird dream.

Flashback to last night: A minor plumbing incident drenches my freshly printed résumé. And my printer is out of ink. And the office supply store is closed. And my interview is tomorrow! I decide to jot down a reminder to pick up a new ink cartridge and print my résumé in the morning. Just as I grab a pen, the phone rings — prompting all brain waves to evacuate my head.

All is well, though: I have enough time to stop by a copy shop to print the résumé. An hour later, I find myself in an office much like the one I imagined. Strangely, though, I’ve remembered to shave. My socks? Well, one is light and the other is dark, but at least both are gray. Plus, I’ve shown up on time, with three dry copies of my résumé. This is amazing!

And it really is amazing, in a way. For someone who has ADHD, just about any completed task can be hailed as a minor miracle. Even more amazing is the fact that — well groomed or not, socks mismatched or not — we adults with ADHD keep believing in ourselves and moving onward toward our dreams.

Wish me luck!

[You’re Hired!]