Have to get a job within a few months. Crippled by depression and an awful work history. What's the best way to attack this?
posted by wanderingchord to work & money (23 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I just quit my job this week (July 4th). Minimum wage, caring for animals at a vet clinic. Only 25 hours a week. Not that amazing, but it was steady work. Over the last few weeks a number of things happened (Which I'll get into more later) and it became clear that if I didn't quit I was going to be fired in a few weeks, maybe a few months. So I quit, figuring it would look marginally better on my job history.
Now I've got to get hired somewhere. This is a big can of worms, a number of separate questions wrapped together, but since they're all connected and all part of a bigger whole I thought it would make more sense to keep them together in one post.
As far as I can see, there are three main questions I'm trying to deal with:
1. What sort of job should I be trying to get?
2. How should I be looking for openings in that area?
3. Once I find an opening, what's the best way to go after it (especially considering my bleak work history/resume)?
I apologize in advance for how massive this is, but I thought it'd be better to lay everything out from the start as clearly as I can.
Before I go into each of the questions in more detail, there's something else I should explain:
I Have three major ball-and-chains to deal with as I try to get decent employment. The first is that I suffer from clinical depression, which is a problem for two reasons. First, because low-wage jobs are rough. Not just physically draining, but emotionally and mentally. You take a lot of abuse, from customers, managers, sometimes even co-workers. But depression means my reserves are already low, so what would just be annoying or frustrating to most people becomes a enormous struggle for me. I should stress this: I don't wince at the thought of fast food or cashiering because it doesn't sound like fun. I wince because such jobs inherently involve a certain level of abuse, and I can't handle it, can't operate in that environment.
Second, because my reserves are already low from struggling against the depression, struggling to look happy and repress despair, I can't function very well as a worker. I'm decent most of the time, but my focus is shot, I can't remember things very well, can't do things quickly enough. My supervisors/managers see this and assume I'm lazy, stupid or both. The truth is that I do pretty damn well considering, but they can't see the monster I'm struggling with. And if they could, they probably wouldn't have hired me in the first place; they want workers, not liabilities. How can I ever hold down a job when I take this time bomb with me everywhere I go? I've tried pills, I've tried therapy. Neither worked very well, and now I don't have money for either.
This, in case you haven't guessed, is one of the two reasons I had to quit my current job (the other was that they were horribly, irresponsibly disorganized and tended to blame the lesser employees when the consequences of said disorganization hit the fan).
The third handicap is that my work/education history is a giant, smoking crater. Here it is, simplified:
-Worked fast food for a year in high school
-Graduated high school
-Over the next six years went to 1. An art school (1.5 years) 2. a tech college ( six months while I waited for my lease to expire) and 3. local Lib arts college (4 years). Never graduated.
-Spent two summers while I was at the lib arts college working as a grocery cashier
-Spent a year working at the clinic, which I've just quit.
-Only held three real jobs in my life
-Huge gaps in employment
-Spent six years trying to do college and failed
-quit the longest-running job under difficult-to-explain circumstances.
How on earth do I do anything with that mess?
I guess question "Zero" is "How do I deal with my handicaps?" None of the rest of it is going to get very far unless I can.
Back to the questions then, in a little more detail...
1. What sort of job should I be trying to get?
At the moment, I have rent and food covered for the next three to four months (thank god). After that, I'm in deep trouble. I've actually been trying to find a second job (or a replacement to the one I just quit) for about six months now, with no success. My instinct, given how dire things are, is to run at anything that's available, but am I wrong there? I'm fairly smart, articulate, graduated high school and spent six years in college. Are there better opportunities I could be taking advantage of? Am I better off picking a level of job and focusing my energy, or simply going for anything I might have a slight chance at?
2.How should I be looking for openings?
Right now I scour Craigslist, the local paper, and a few online aggregators. But that's pretty slow going. Again and again I keep reading about how the only way most people get decent jobs is through "networking," through knowing the right people. But how do you cultivate that? How do you break into "knowing people" when you're pretty much cut off from everything?
3. How to best go after openings when I find them?
In the six months I've been looking, I've applied to about 30-40 jobs, given about five or six interviews and received a grand total of one job offer (which I discovered I couldn't accept once I knew the details). Part of the problem is obviously my work history (discussed above under "handicaps"). The other is that I'm probably not giving very good interviews, which I'll have to work on. Mostly, I'm looking for advice on dealing with my work history.
Summary of that mountain of text: I have no job, and no college degree. I've been job-hunting for six months with no luck. If I don't get employment in the next three months, I won't be able to make rent. Finding even a minimum-wage job is hard because we're in a recession/depression/god knows what and I'm crippled by a bad work history and severe depression. How do I get my foot in the door? How do I survive here?
Glad to give more detail if needed; this is already much too long.