How do people decide what job or career is best for them? The process of career exploration for an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex process that takes time. It involves a good amount of self-exploration, a level of commitment to the process and being open to options you may never have considered.
If you have struggled through a job that is just not the right fit for you, or if you have completed your education and have no clue about what direction you should take, you can begin to figure out what career options are best for you by asking a few (seemingly) simple questions:
Who am I?
What do I want to do?
How do I go about finding the right fit?
Best work environment for me?
Who am I?
This journey begins with piecing together the various components that make you the unique and special individual that you are. To gain fulfillment with the work you do, your career/job must be aligned with who you are. The following questions begin to paint the picture of who you are. The numbered items represent some examples of the methods used to discover your authentic self.
- What are my interests; personal and occupational?
- What are my strengths and abilities?
- What are my personal preferences and the characteristics that describe my personality?
- What are my challenges?
- Values: things that are most important to you?
These are some of the tools you and your career coach might use to help you discover your authentic self:
- Interest Inventory Assessments — taken online or through paper and pencil, this type of assessment includes a variety of questions about occupations that may be of interest to you. The report typically includes a short list of occupations to explore further.
- Skills Assessments — identify your skill sets by completing checklists and circling skill work lists.
- Personality Tests — become familiar with your personality type and personal preferences. These assessments can identify your type and describe your personal characteristics and preferences. While there are numerous personality inventories, one of the most popular personality assessments used in career counseling is the Meyer-Briggs. Results can help you make better career decisions.
- Values — learn about your values; the things in life and the work environment that are most important to you.
- Challenges — share any previous testing results (psychological, academic, neuro-psychological testing) that describes strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. This information is helpful, but not essential.
What do I Want to Do?
Here is where your coach gets to play the game of private investigator with you. The number of questions to ask is unlimited, however, there are a few that will render some valuable clues about your strengths:
- What things are you committed to and passionate about?
- What are some of the accomplishments you are most proud of?
- What types of things were you naturally good at as a child? Activities you gravitated to.
- What activities give you the most satisfaction?
- Energy producing vs. energy draining tasks/activities
This phase of the process involves examining the list of occupations supplied by the Interest Inventory Report. Here is where you eliminate the occupations that do not fit, keep the ones to explore further, and add some ideas of your own. Then the research begins with guidance from your coach/career counselor.
The Right Fit
We cannot generalize about certain occupations being well suited for people with ADHD. The diagnosis tells us about a set of symptoms that people have in common, but it cannot and does not tell us anything about best-suited career choices. To explore career fit, we need to consider some of the following sample questions:
- Are the occupational choices personally motivating for you?
- Are you someone who works best on solo projects, or someone who is energized by working with others in a team or group?
- What type of environment is suitable: small or large organization, structured with set hours or flexible work hours, an environment where you physically move around, the level of risk-taking?
You will be asked to prepare an inventory of job tasks, in which you identify the tasks that you are good at or that feel natural to you versus the tasks that you are not so good at or prefer not to do. This exercise helps to identify strength areas and can be useful for job interviews and evaluating whether a particular job is right for you.
Gathering all the information together can be accomplished with a Career Coach or Counselor with training and experience working with adolescents and adults with ADHD. I can help you gather all the information together into a personal profile, analyze the information, direct you in exploring your career options, and move forward with a plan that contains your career objectives and action steps.
Victoria Roche, MSW, PCC
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach