It's hard for anyone, but for him...
July 6, 2010 6:38 AM   Subscribe

An aquaintance of mine needs to find a job - any job at all that he can do. Aside from the poor economy, obstacles include lack of experience, and anxiety disorder. Details inside.

Someone I know really wants to work. He is 20 years old, and has basic life skills. However, he has had very very little success at finding a job. One of the big obstacles is that he has an anxiety disorder, and just crumbles under high-pressure situations. I'm talking a severe physical reaction to stress (anxiety attacks). Symptoms can include thowing up, loss of strength, visible shaking, and other things. He is taking medication and seeing the appropriate professionals, but the problem can not be fixed completely.

Because of his condition, he can't work in a high-pressure environment. He once got hired at a fast food place, but he quit on his second day because he couldn't take the stress. Although in his defense, the establishment was very poorly managed and he might have done better if the manager had been different. But he's really hoping to find something that is lower on the stress scale, for the sake of his health and sanity.

Another obstacle is that he has almost no work experience. Aside from the 2-day fast food job, he managed to score a holiday job last year working for a local toy store. Although he found the pressure of Christmas retail work difficult, and may have had a few bad days (health-wise) due to anxiety, he managed to handle it well and seemed to have gotten used to it somewhat by the time the season ended. However, he was let go at the end of the holiday season (as he was told to expect when they hired him), and hasn't been able to find more work since then. He believes he left on good terms with his manager. This 3 month seasonal job along with the 2-day fast food job are the sum total of his work experience.

He also has no college or special education. He is of sound body, and can probably do any job that the average unskilled worker can do (lift 50 lbs, alphabetize shelves, move boxes, file documents, plant flowers, mop floors, etc). He is comfortable with a computer, but is not a technical person.

The final challenge is location - he lives near Detroit, MI, USA - home to one of the worse unemployment rates in the country (if not THE worst).

He's asked me for suggestions in his search for work. Aside from driving around and applying at any stores with want ads in their windows, what would you suggest my friend do to maximize his chances of finding a job?
posted by Vorteks to Work & Money (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about maximizing his chances, but here are some ideas for jobs that might be lower stress:

night security guard at a warehouse or apartment building
UPS truck loader, or airport baggage handler
overnight cleaning crew at office building
lawn maintenance/snow shoveling seasonal work
posted by CathyG at 6:46 AM on July 6, 2010

Although retail and fast food are typical entry level positions, they can be pretty high-stress! You need to work really fast, deal with unruly customers and frantic managers who are trying to meet the store's corporate goals, etc.

I think your friend might do better in a job where he doesn't have to deal with people. CathyG had some good examples above.

I would also suggest applying at temp agencies because their "interviews" are not very stressful. All you have to do is take typing tests and answer a few basic questions about what kind of job you're looking for; the agency does the work of finding the places that need people.
posted by cranberrymonger at 7:00 AM on July 6, 2010

The trouble with retail abd fast food work is that although its entry level and relatively easy to get it is a horrible environment for someone who suffers with anxiety. Dealing with customers is high pressure - you normally have to move quickly and you normally have at least one interaction a day with someone who is unreasonably angry. You can't use your own judgment, particually in stores which are part of a chain and have strict store policy which needs to be followed to the letter. You can't escape either, there are often rules about when you can leave the till. Retail work may be too stressful for your friend but he shouldn't feel badly about that or think that it means he will struggle with any job he will get.

Data entry work may be less stressful. He won't have to deal with people or targets and it is more likely to be in an environment he can control. Temping agencies may help and as Cranberrymonger says temp angency interviews are likely to be low pressure.

He could also consider warehouse or factory work. These positions are more likely to be long hours but again they will be in an environment he could have more control over.

As for maximising chances - are there any courses he could take? Is he in a financial position to be able volunteer / gain work experience somewhere with out being paid? If he tries to get work experience at an office his tasks are likely to be filing, fetching drinks and data entry so it won't be too stressful. It may help him gain confidence though and it will look good on his CV.
posted by Laura_J at 12:11 PM on July 6, 2010

I think CathyG's suggestions are good. I also suggest that he avoid small businesses if possible since (in my very biased experience) they are more prone to have dysfunctional owners with a crisis-oriented mindset. I have an anxiety disorder and one of the least stressful jobs I have had was cleaning offices (I was also 20 at the time). People would check my work but they were not over my shoulder, and I could listen to music as I cleaned. My second least stressful job was working in the mailroom of a newspaper, which just involved sorting and then delivering mail to various departments.

Please tell your friend that there is hope; I was a nervous agoraphobic wreck at 20 but I've since made it through college and grad school and have held a number of fast-paced positions.
posted by desjardins at 3:24 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

He should take a job that involves solo work without time pressure. Janitorial/cleaning work. Librarian. Groundskeeping. The key is few people around and little/no time pressure.
posted by davejay at 11:16 PM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: I appreciate the responses so far. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to find work like that in this economy? I've always been able to find work myself, but I have specialized skills and I don't know how to advise someone who doesn't.
posted by Vorteks at 7:00 AM on July 7, 2010

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