Updated on March 28, 2024
5 min read

Find a Job in Recovery: Overcome Barriers and Build a Future

9 Ways to Find a Job While in Recovery

Returning to work after rehab is a big part of building a stable life. It helps you find a sense of purpose, improve confidence, and reintegrate back into society. 

But it can be challenging to find a job while in recovery. Here are some tips to help you out:

1. Recovery Support Services

Your recovery program or sober living community likely offers services to help you find a job. This includes: 

  • Resume assistance
  • Interview prep
  • Job leads

2. Explore Recovery-Related Careers

Consider exploring addiction recovery-related careers. These jobs allow you to help others and give back to the community.

Some examples of recovery-related work include:

  • Addiction counselor
  • Peer specialist
  • Recovery coach
  • Social worker

3. Know Your Rights

Various laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protect your right to have a job. It also ensures you have access to healthcare and protects your privacy.

Because of this, employers cannot legally discriminate against people based on their past treatment for substance abuse.

4. Seek Flexible Employment

Consider looking for part-time jobs or jobs with flexible hours. This helps you balance work and rehab.

5. Use Job Boards and Assistance Programs

Organizations and websites are designed to help those in recovery find work. America in Recovery is a good example. Also, government programs like the Department of Labor's One Stop Career Center offer job search help.

6. Consider Volunteering

If finding a job takes time, consider volunteering. This helps you build experience and skillset. It’s also a great way to network and learn about potential job opportunities.

7. Prepare for Interviews

Get ready to explain your work history and gaps in your resume. We recommend practicing interview questions to build confidence. There are many resources available on the internet through your local library. 

8. Expand Your Network

Support groups and community organizations are a great way to connect with other people or potential employers. Talk to others in recovery about job leads and support.

9. Be Patient and Persistent

Finding a job can be challenging and take a lot of time, even for people who aren’t in recovery. However, it’s important to keep trying, stay positive, and build your skills.

Preparing for a Job Interview While in Recovery

Preparing for a job interview while in recovery can be daunting. However, there are various ways to get ready for an interview.

Here are some tips we recommend:

  • Practice self-care: Taking care of your health can help reduce stress and boost your confidence 
  • Rehearse talking about sobriety: Get ready to talk about your recovery and how it’s made a positive impact on your life
  • Get organized: Have all your documents, resume, and references updated
  • Research the company: Look up information about the company to see how well you would fit in the role and if the culture is good for you
  • Know your worth: Remember your qualifications and your achievements to help boost your confidence  

Handling the Interview

Remember, the goal of the interview is to showcase your abilities. Your recovery is a part of your story, but it doesn’t define your professional capabilities.

Here are some tips on handling the interview: 

  • Addressing employment gaps: Be honest about the gaps in your employment and practice answering questions that you’re nervous about
  • Focus on skills and qualifications: Emphasize your experiences and how they align with the job requirements
  • Ask your employer questions: Show your interest in the role by asking thoughtful questions about the job and the interview
  • Dress professionally: Make a good first impression by dressing appropriately for the interview.
  • Be honest but positive: Focus on the positive aspects of recovery and how you've grown from the experience

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Common Challenges in Job Searching During Recovery

Aside from having gaps in work history, people recovering from addiction often face extra challenges when looking for a job. This can come from past substance use or maintaining sobriety.

Here are some challenges that you might face:

  • Stigma: Some employers might worry about hiring someone recovering, fearing they won't be reliable or might go back to using substances.
  • Lack of references:  Past substance use might have led to poor performance at old jobs, making it difficult to get good recommendations.
  • Legal issues: Some people in recovery have criminal records, and employers might be hesitant to hire someone with a criminal history
  • Emotional readiness: Looking for a job is stressful and may trigger a relapse
  • Supportive work environment: It can be difficult to find an understanding and supportive job that can accommodate your needs
  • Money pressure: The need to make money can push people into jobs that aren't ideal for long-term recovery
  • Balancing work & recovery: The stress from work and dealing with recovery can be stressful
  • Managing Expectations: Job searching takes time. Be patient, don't give up, and have realistic expectations.

Overcoming Challenges in Job Searching

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and utilize resources for people in recovery. Engage with your support group, talk to your loved ones, and use different resources to improve your skill set. 

When you get a job, have an honest conversation with your employer about your recovery. They can help accommodate your needs, make a flexible schedule, and more. But remember, you don’t have to share everything; just share details relevant to the job.

Get Professional Help

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Additional Resources

Various online resources are available to help people in recovery find work. These include:

  • America in Recovery: A platform connecting employers with individuals in recovery seeking employment
  • Career One Stop: Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, offering career exploration and job search resources
  • National H.I.R.E. Network: Assists individuals with criminal records, which may include those in recovery, in finding employment

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Updated on March 28, 2024

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