Jobs and anxiety- my conundrum, please help!
October 28, 2013 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Anxiety disorder has left me with the following work related conundrum - what would you do?

You are a 26 year old male who has suffered from a relatively severe anxiety disorder who fully recognises that avoidance is not the way to overcome anxiety, understands their condition very well and is dedicated to change.

However, as you have been out of work so long with only two or 3 month long stints of work in your entire life you are finding it very difficult to get a job without downright lying on your cv. You are home studying for a psychology degree from the open university and intend to be a therapist in the long term future. But for now you require a job that will leave your evenings free for study and will get you in a good routine. You are willing to do anything that is not overly stressful and are willing to take courses to get qualifications if need be.

What do you do? What kind of job do you go for and how do you go about getting it with such a terrible lack of work history and an inability to produce references (which every employer seems adamant about)?
posted by niruniru to Work & Money (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Where are you located, approximately? And what general skills do you have, if any? Also: what things/situations in particular do you find to be stressors? It varies from person to person (e.g. I'm in an open office right now, which I find INSANELY stressful, because I'm an introvert, but some other people really enjoy it).
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:28 AM on October 28, 2013

Are you saying that you are tempted to lie on your CV, or that you have already done so?

Why are you unable to produce references?

For someone at your career level, your concern about being able to stick to a 9-5 routine seems a little overblown. That kind of concern rears its head when you start to do career jobs, whereas you sound like someone who should be looking for any job that will hire you with the skills you have already, meaning: office admin, cleaning, food service. Admittedly cleaning and food service might mean evening shifts, I can't tell if it is specifically evenings that you must leave free for study or if you simply need a chunk of time to yourself each day.

As for "overly stressful", I don't know what kind of thing tends to stress you. You'd have to be more specific.

I would suggest that you look in the local newspaper and apply aggressively for any job you think you might be capable of doing. I would also suggest that you contact every local temp agency you can find, arrange for a face-to-face interview, and call every one of them every single day while emphasizing your willingness to do any job you're physically capable of doing.
posted by tel3path at 6:34 AM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you have any kind of officey computer skills, a temp agency (or three or four) is your answer. It's the easiest way to start gaining experience and building a resume.
posted by something something at 6:36 AM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

N'thing temping. Also, many places are going to start seasonal hiring soon for the holidays (which I guess is also sort of temping).
posted by jquinby at 6:40 AM on October 28, 2013

I'd frame my resume as a series of temp jobs. You can say that you enjoyed the flexibility of temping in the past, but now you're looking for a permanant day job (DO NOT tell an potential employer that you're studying to change careers.)

Start by listing your skills. Then specific projects that you've worked on. Then list the companies you've worked for. (I'd use years, instead of month/year as dates.)

Apply for simple administrative jobs. If you like being alone with your thoughts, something like mailroom/copy room dude might be the way to go. Or learn Excel and be an analyst like I am. I sit in a cube all day and murder numbers.

As for references. Corral your friends or past co-workers. I can't imagine anyone being super stringent about references for entry-level jobs.

Aim low and work up from there. Government or corporate jobs are probably going to be easier to get than some Mom and Pop place, because sometimes they need a warm body to do the work.

Target better, and apply early and often!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:43 AM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I;m based in the UK.

Yeah it's only entry level jobs i'm looking for really, not a career. I guess temp agencies are my only option but I have very little trust in them as I've tried them before and some of the jobs I got were utterly ridiculous, when you decline a job you never hear from them again, it almost seems as hard to get their attention as it is to get an employers attention in this day and age. I will give them a try anyway.

Someone mentioned Special Needs teaching assistant, because It is normal to get voluntary work and prove yourself that way instead of the endless tirade of ignored CV applications. Are there any other jobs that tend to work this way?

I've had my CV looked at several times to be improved, and it is just relentlessly rejected due to the gaps in work, basically 11 months at a time, so I couldn't blag that i've been temping really.

Whenever I get interviews or people meet me personally, I always do well and people see that I am competent and polite, are their industries that prefer to hire this way?
posted by niruniru at 7:12 AM on October 28, 2013

Volunteering is a fantastic way to build skills, experience and references, and can often lead to an actual job if you want. I resisted it for ages because I thought I couldn't afford the time or effort, but in the end I gave it a try and it turned my life around. Even if you don't want to go into the charity sector, there are a lot of basic office roles which will segue nicely into a solid relationship with a temp agency, and once you get in their good books they will be very keen to place you in a permanent position. NB - lots of charities will be especially hungry for volunteers over the Christmas period.

Getting some counselling and/or other therapy, through the NHS and/or, say, Mind, would probably also be very useful as a way of keeping yourself on track.

Best of luck!
posted by Drexen at 8:58 AM on October 28, 2013

I've had my CV looked at several times to be improved, and it is just relentlessly rejected due to the gaps in work, basically 11 months at a time, so I couldn't blag that i've been temping really.

Yeah, you need to overcome this gap problem. That should be your first priority. It sounds as though you are being very careful about the work that you will accept ("utterly ridiculous") and while I'm generally a supporter of people having the boundaries that they want to have around work, it's possible that your own boundaries are not well-calibrated to the working culture that you find yourself in.

You might just have to take a job, any job that pays, and find ways to live with it for a year or two, so you can demonstrate your ability to show up reliably and execute tasks to some minimum standard of competence. Having an employment history with 2-3 month stints followed by long unemployment is going to look, to a lot of managers, like you can't do these things. So taking and keeping a job, any job, that a temp agency or a direct employer offers at a wage you can live with is your first step, here. You have to find a way to manage your anxiety and everything else while keeping a job. You can do this. It might take you out of where you are comfortable, but you can do it.
posted by gauche at 9:23 AM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

What was ridiculous about the jobs?
posted by tel3path at 10:36 AM on October 28, 2013

Ridiculous? I show up, do whatever it is that needs doing, I get paid. That's not ridiculous. That's WORKING!

Any job, no matter how menial, is better than no job and no income.

You need to demonstrate to potential employers that you will show up and do work, regularly, over a period of time.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:11 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I don't mean ridiculous as in beneath me, I would never think like that! If i'm honest I went with a recruitment agency once, and the job was incredibly unstructured, they didn't even know what they wanted me to do really and I was getting conflicting orders which was incredibly stressful. As long as I can actually do a job i'll be happy, but there wasn't even a job there to do!

But you're right gauche I just need to do what I get and live with it for a while, and thanks to drexen, I think i'm just gonna go ahead and volunteer at an oxfam shop or something similar to get the ball rolling.
posted by niruniru at 4:35 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

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