job hunting while adhd
It’s no secret to anyone that follows me on Mastodon, or that bird site, that I’ve been looking for a new job since the beginning of the year. I’ve been conducting the search openly, because it’s just too hard for me any other way. The problem with looking for a job while you’re currently employed is that you still have to do your other job and properly searching for a new one requires a lot of work. Like a lot of work.
For me, I’m the sole provider of income in our home, while my wife has the much more difficult job of taking care of our son and her aging parents. Being the sole provider of income (I keep stressing of income because the work that my wife does is providing in our household) in my situation leads to a lot of stress about choosing a new company that will be stable, provide great health insurance (something that I was extremely, extremely blessed with at Nutanix), and provide the income and flexibility we need to live our lives. Right now my in-laws are requiring a lot of flexibility in our schedule while we help my MIL navigate chemotherapy and continue to support my FIL with MS.
So when I kicked off the job search, I put out a post on LinkedIn and Twitter saying I was open to new opportunities. I had several places slide into my DMs and I also had a few friends do some internal referals. As I began to talk to various companies, I quickly became overwhelmed with what was going on. I realized that I was basically starting another full time job that was going to quickly suck the life out of me.
Why is it so hard?
There’s two parts to job hunting that I find hard: Scheduling and Organization (Executive Function) & Interviewing (High Energy, Active Engagement).
For me, the Scheduling and Organization are by far the part that is the most exhausting for me. I find that I am constantly juggling 4-5 calendars to try and find the open spaces that work. Work, Personal, My ADHD, Family, and the interviewer’s calendars. Wait, your ADHD, you ask? Yes. Because of the nature of my medication, I have periods of hyper-focus and creativity throughout the day. I try to time my interviews around peak hyper-focus or creativity depending on the type of interview it will be. Add on to that talking to multiple companies and stuff starts to fall through the cracks.
I’ve been living with ADHD for more than 30 years, even though I was only recently diagnosed. Throughout the years, I’ve come up with systems to help me cope and organize around these problems, but I still miss the mark some days. I forget to fill out a form, respond to requests for available times for interviews, or lose track of some due dilligence that I’m working on.
The actual Interviewing, entailing being energetic, engaged, personable, requires a lot of prep and focus, being the introvert that I am. I’ve always been able to turn Extroversion on and off, but it comes at a cost, the rest of my day. After a few hours of interviews and or meetings at work and I quickly am exhausted for the day. No amount of caffeine, Adderall, or activity will push me over that hump.
On top of the energy required for the interviews, just getting to the interview is it’s own set of obstacles. My ADHD requires that I set multiple alarms to ensure I don’t miss the meeting, that I get on the Zoom 5 minutes early and sit there and stare at my face, and that I ensure all things are on Do Not Disturb. If there’s something I want to ensure is true, it’s that I’m not being distracted by anything else during the interviews.
Why share this?
You might wonder why I share this during a period of interviewing, couldn’t it affect my chances at an organization? I’ve had confirmations from multiple people I’ve interviewed with that they’ve reviewed my website, but I’ve always been determined to be my open and full self. If a post like this scares a company that I’m interviewing with, then it’s probably not the place for me.
I want to work for companies that embrace people for their differences, give them the space to be themselves without worrying about retribution.
Beyond that, I want to normalize talking about struggle. We always try to put our best foot forward in public, obscuring the rough spots with a bit of conceiler and MacBook camera magic (I actually really hate the smoothing features of the M1/M2 FaceTime cameras).
Find a way to be you in the workplace, to the extent that you’re comfortable. Find a way to be you in the space around you, in person, online, etc. ADHD is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s nothing to hide from your immediate management. The more people talk about it, the less stigma it will carry.