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Finding Work After Addiction: The Truth About the Job Market for People in Recovery

For many people in recovery, the prospect of finding a job is daunting and shrouded in the fear of failure. While the stigma associated with the label “addict” combined with lapses in work history and/or a criminal record does obviously close some doors, it can also open others. Walking through those open doors takes courage, but without guidance, the “addict” may never even find them.

Unemployment is one of the biggest issues facing recovering addicts today. But for those who either attend support groups or addiction clinics, career guidance is typically unavailable. In fact, for many people in recovery, lack of career services and job placement assistance are the major obstacles preventing them from re-launching into the world of work. And ultimately, without work, it’s difficult for them to transition from a life of addiction to a fulfilling, productive lifestyle.

Overcoming Employment Roadblocks

The two most common challenges faced by recovering addicts who want to work include lapses in work history and criminal convictions. These can seem like insurmountable obstacles, but with the guidance of a trained counselor, it’s possible to successfully re-enter the workforce and find a job that is not only fulfilling but gives a sense of purpose.

There is a two-part solution to overcoming the hurdles mentioned above. The first piece has to do with preparing assets and practicing for interviews. The second is about identifying and working with employers who are experienced with hiring people in recovery. While the roadmap to finding meaningful work may not be clear to addict and their families, it’s all in a day’s work for an experienced and connected career counselor.

Finding Meaningful Work

At InnerActions in Woodland Hills, career services are a core component of our outpatient addiction treatment program. Our Career Services Director, Ellie Tabiban, is and a Gallup Certified StrengthsFinder Coach and has helped hundreds of people in recovery unlock their passions and find meaningful careers.

Describing the InnerActions’ career services program, Ellie explains, “What I try to do is offer a vast set of resources to help prepare them for a purposeful future. This includes everything from professional-level career counseling, to resume building, to interview coaching, to job placements.”

At InnerActions, the focus on career development begins during the client onboarding process, during which counselors identify clients that are good candidates to start working with Ellie. The career services program utilizes the StrengthsFinder technology to help clients identify their hidden strengths, known as ‘talent themes,’ and they are taught how to mobilize these talent themes.

The InnerActions career services program is based on the guiding principles of strengths-based and positive psychology. The program utilizes the StrengthsFinder assessment, developed by Gallup and Tom Rath, in order to help identify unique signature personality talents, transferable skills, top motivators, interests, and values.

The top 5 ‘talent themes’ identified through the StrengthsFinder assessment are then used to help clients establish a new career path, one that is aligned with their interests. According to Ellie, “The ultimate goal of the program is to assist them to become self-sufficient and to follow their passions.”

Another essential component of the InnerActions career services program is skills training. Once a client’s core strengths have been identified, they are then taught a set of essential skills that will serve them during both their job search and their eventual career. Working one-on-one with counselors and through workshops, clients get to develop a new optimized resumé, practice key job skills, and work to overcome personal stumbling blocks. Clients are also taught key networking strategies, given practice interviewing, and trained in goal setting and time management.

Unfortunately, career counseling and job placement are often neglected during the addiction counseling and recovery process. By helping recovering addicts discover their hidden talents and begin new, exciting careers, we can help ensure that their clients move on to lead happy, productive, and fulfilling lives.

If you would like more information on the innovative career services program at InnerActions, feel free to send us a message or give us a call at (818) 571-9841.

In the video below, our Career Services Director, Ellie Tabibian, shares 4 essential things that those in recovery should do in order to prepare for re-entering the workforce.