Looking for a Job in Recovery? 7 Ways to Make It Happen

Financial concerns are some of the first priorities after stabilizing physically and emotionally in recovery. With tax season upon us, many are taking a good hard look at their finances and identifying how much they made last year and how much they will need to make this year in order to maintain a stable home in recovery.

The best way to manage finances is to get a job, and the good news is that keeping a regular work schedule at a job that engages you physically or mentally is good for your recovery as well. Not only does it help you to avoid too much downtime, which can be a trigger for relapse, but it also gives you a sense of purpose and a feeling of control over what is to come and what you can do with your life now that you are sober and able to make positive choices.

    1. Get your résumé together. If you did not have a lot in the way of education and work experience prior to active addiction or your stay in drug rehab, then you may not have a lot to work with but that’s okay. You may also have a résumé that is heavily populated with work experience in a career you are no longer interested in or able to pursue. That’s okay too. Do the best you can with what you have to create a résumé that speaks to your skills rather than the nature of the job. That is, if you were a nurse practitioner and you oversaw a group of nurses, but you are no longer able or interested in working in the medical field after active addiction, you can still use the experience to demonstrate your ability to manage people no matter what the context.
    2. Take a look at what is available. You probably have an idea of the kind of jobs you would like to apply for, and it is a good idea to look for those positions first. But if you find that there is very little available that speaks to your experience or interests, take the time to peruse the want ads online and see what is out there.
    3. Open your mind. Just because you have never done a certain kind of job in the past does not mean you cannot learn. Even if something seems like it is entirely outside of your wheelhouse, if they are looking for people to start at the bottom and willing to train newbies, you may find that it’s a great fit or a good stopgap to help you pay the bills, pay off debt, and/or save money until you find something you are better suited for.
    4. Practice interviewing. Your résumé may get you an interview, but it is the interview that gets you the job. It is worth it to practice your interviewing skills before you go in. Clean up, shave, pick up some clean and respectable clothes at the thrift store, or borrow a nice outfit. Practice your handshake, meet the person’s gaze, listen to questions, and consider your answers before responding. The more practiced you are, the more composed you will be in the actual interview, even if you are nervous.
    5. Check in after an appropriate amount of time. After the interview, send a quick email or drop off a note the next day to thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting with them as well and that you hope to hear from them soon. If they do not respond by the time they have told you they would, it is likely that you did not get the job, but you should still keep that bridge open. Reach out and inquire about the position the day after you were supposed to hear back. If you find that you did not get the job, thank them for their time and let them know you would like them to keep you in mind should a position arise in the future.
    6. Keep trying. Even if it seems like you are continually getting turned down or having a hard time even getting an interview, do not give up. It can take time, and just like addiction recovery, the more effort you put in, the more likely it is that you will see positive results.
    7. Build your job skills. Are there certifications that will boost your résumé? Are there volunteer opportunities available in the line of work you would like to do? Is there a cause you feel passionate about that you would like to work for? All of these can lead to meeting the right people and/or being in the right place at the right time and getting a great job that pays well and suits your interests. In the meantime, keep looking, keep applying, and consider taking on a job that may not be exactly what you want but will help you to stay afloat financially until you can begin the career you want to define your sobriety.

What job tip have you heard that really helped you when you were looking for a job in recovery? What do you think is most impressive to prospective employers when you have a gap in your work history due to active addiction and treatment?

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

A New Life Awaits
Start your recovery at our spa-like facility in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Holistic therapies, chef-prepared meals, and LGBTQ+ support are among the many features of our premier drug and alcohol treatment program.