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Feeling Disqualified From Your Dream Job Because of Past Struggles With Addiction? Here’s How to Move Forward.

Working through shame is an often inevitable experience when in recovery from addiction. And although you may not feel that shame affects you professionally, it often does, and this needs to be addressed to allow you to move forward in a way that is healthy and providing of opportunity.

For many, there was a point in your addiction where a family member or friend may have said “you’ll never get a job with a felony on your record,” or “you’ll never get hired if you have a DUI.” Though their intentions may have been positive with the goal of helping you avoid further consequences due to your addiction, these facts can haunt someone long after they’ve received a felony, DUI, or even an on-the-job consequence due to their alcohol or drug use.

Unfortunately, this gives many who have recovered the feeling that they may have ruined their chances at their dream job or a fulfilling career because of addiction. And for those in recovery, many are left with the shadowing thoughts of shame related to their career – even years after they’ve recovered.

The Feeling of Disqualification

Beyond shame, many people end up feeling disqualified.

The perception of being disqualified can manifest in many ways – not going after a job you want even though you’re qualified, not submitting your resume, not being confident in an interview, etc. Each of these circumstances displays the gap between your perceived value versus your true value to the workforce, and it leaves tremendous room for improvement in ensuring that those who have recovered understand their potential.

You may be set back, you may have hurdles to jump through, but you’re not disqualified. No matter what your past looked like, what your struggles were like in addiction or what your legal record might say, you’re worthy of a fulfilling career. Likely, there is a job out there waiting for you, even if it’s something you may not have thought of doing previously.

Here are a few steps you can take to move forward after feeling disqualified:

  • Examine Your Qualifications

There may be circumstances from your past in addiction that make you feel disqualified from a particular career – but before you jump to conclusions, sit down and truly weigh out where you are qualified and unqualified. Don’t lose hope because of your past– look objectively and honestly at your education, the jobs you’ve held, and even the unique lessons you’ve learned in recovery. Work to understand and evaluate the value you have to offer the workforce and how you can display your qualifications to a potential employer or industry no matter what your past looks like.

  • Understand Barriers

Though you may encounter barriers in securing a job in a particular industry, know that no matter what, there is a job for you where your qualifications are a match – even if you need to do some work to get there. Felonies or legal charges can impact your eligibility toward future opportunity in certain industries, though there are many industries, roles and companies that are a solid, suitable match for you. Talk with a career coach, find a professional mentor understanding of recovery, or consult authoritative companies, educational organizations, etc. in the field you hope to be employed. Before you make an assumption, look at the facts, look at your qualifications, and find the best career path to help you excel in your professional life in recovery.

  • Persevere

No matter what, stay vigilant and dedicated. Do not underestimate the power of perseverance and hard work in recovery and in your career. Jobs often do not manifest overnight for anyone, so if your job search is taking longer than expected, avoid feeling ashamed, disqualified or defaulting blame on your past in addiction. Stay objective and optimistic, continuously pursuing new opportunities and readily listening to feedback when a job may not work out. This experience will help build character for your future career and will continue to refine the lessons you’re working on in recovery.

Moving Forward, Moving Upward

If you’re in recovery and looking to move forward in your career, begin to navigate the unique feelings related to your career in recovery in the company of a good mentor, a recovery coach or sponsor. Leverage their insight, skills and sometimes their connections to help you understand future opportunities that are accessible to you regardless of your past struggles with addiction.

First and foremost, always remember that you’re never disqualified. Recovery has given you hope for the future and a unique skillset that can be leveraged in the workforce. Move forward confidently, knowing the right job exists that will be a fit for you and for life in recovery.



Images Courtesy of iStock

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