Living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
For many people living with chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis), finding a great job can be difficult. ME/CFS isn’t a condition that’s constant, with predictable effects that someone can easily make adjustments for.
Symptoms like extreme fatigue, muscle pain and difficulty concentrating can make it difficult to find the right job - but it’s often the inconsistency and inability to predict when these symptoms will present themselves that make it really challenging.
Many people living with ME/CFS report stress, anxiety and lack of sleep as triggers for their symptoms; and these are exactly the things likely to occur when you’re trying your hardest to excel at your job without any adjustments.
Feeling the need to work harder, and push through it are a psychological side effect of living with ME/CFS that isn’t discussed nearly as often, and pushing harder can often make things worse. The right job recognises the challenges of living with ME/CFS and helps you make adjustments so that you can excel, succeed and lead a healthy life.
At APM, we can help.
At APM, we believe everyone has the right to work and enjoy the benefits that meaningful employment brings. If you’re living with chronic fatigue syndrome and wanting to work, support is available. We’re committed to helping people living with ME/CFS find the right job for them.
The NDIS is available to people living with medically diagnosed ME/CFS, and through it people living with ME/CFS can access the Disability Employment Scheme to get support in finding a great job.
In this article, we look at some of the best jobs for chronic fatigue syndrome, and some of the best ways to talk about it with your employer. For more information, check out our guide on making adjustments and working with chronic fatigue syndrome or get in touch with our team today.
What makes a job good for someone living with ME/CFS?
For most people with chronic fatigue syndrome, flexibility in the job role is essential.
The right job for someone living with ME/CFS isn’t necessarily something easy, or something that you can ‘pace yourself’ through. It’s rarely a case of flexibility to ‘do less’. People living with ME/CFS are often the most talented, driven people and any employer should be excited at the chance to work with them.
Particularly in this candidate-driven job market, employers should be asking themselves how they can make their company an attractive place to work for people living with ME/CFS.
The right job is one that offers you the flexibility to work when you’re at your best, and shows compassion when things aren’t quite going your way. Flexibility to work from home when you want or need to, or flexibility around your start and finish times. Part time roles are often worth considering, as the part time nature gives you more days to either spread the work out, or to work when you feel most comfortable.
To find the perfect job for you, and your unique situation, look for an employer that recognises the amount of work someone living with ME/CFS puts in and offers workplace adjustments to suit. Look too for a role that is inherently flexible (such as part time, consulting or that offers work from home flexibility), or even consider working for yourself.
Some workplace adjustments that you can discuss with an employer include;
- Flexible working hours / part time work
- The option to work from home
- Changes to work tasks or changes to your role
- Time off for appointments
- Regular breaks during the day
- Safe and quiet space where you can rest
- Changes to your workspace
What are the best jobs for chronic fatigue syndrome
Below are some of the best jobs for people with chronic fatigue syndrome. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s idea of a ‘best jobs’ will be different, and based on your own specific situation and preferences.
Talking to an Employment Consultant at APM can help you discover job opportunities you might not have thought of before; we’re specialists in matching great people with great jobs, and are committed to finding the right one for you.
Roles in human resources or disability, equity and inclusion
Living with chronic fatigue or other chronic illnesses gives someone a lot of perspective. They understand the challenges that people living with disability, injury or illness face in the workplace, and by working within companies in HR, DEI or People Operations, they can make a real difference.
By working in one of these departments, you can advocate for people living with injury, illness or disability and make the workplace equitable for all. Implement policies to support people with flexibility, and encourage inclusion through workplace adjustments.
A copywriter writes articles, blogs, website content and other texts for marketing purposes. They often work as a freelancer or as a team member of a marketing company. Copywriting roles tend to be flexible and many copywriters work from home. As a freelancer, it’s up to you when you get your work done, and how much at a time.
Other flexible writing jobs include grant writing, resume writing, social media posts and technical writing.
A transcriptionist listens to audio recordings and writes them into a report. They often work in the medical and legal fields. Although many transcriptionists work in an office environment, some work from home on a part time or freelance basis.
A person who works in data entry takes information from different sources and puts it into a company’s computer system. Data entry can be done at the office or sometimes from home. Data entry jobs can be found in a wide range of industries. Often an entry-level role, data entry can be a great way to ease back into working.
Particularly skilled in your field? Many companies hire the services of a consultant to work through difficult projects, decisions or even financial forecasting. As a freelance consultant specialising in marketing you might help a medium business plan their strategy for the next three years.
As a financial consultant, you might help small businesses with their annual budgeting. Or, you might even find yourself as a business consultant working with high profile CEOs to navigate challenging scenarios.
The best bit? Freelance consultants are their own boss. They can set appointments for when they’re at their best, and push things back when they’re not quite 100%.
Pet groomers look after the health and appearance of pets. They usually work for themselves as freelancers or for a pet grooming company. The beauty of pet grooming lies in the flexibility, schedule your appointments based on how you’re feeling, and how much you want to get done on a particular day.
Customer service workers help customers with questions and complaints. They often work online or over the phone and sometimes this can be done from home. A similar type of role is a telephone salesperson. If this doesn’t sound like something you’d want to do though, that’s ok—some people living with ME/CFS find customer facing roles fun and refreshing, and some find it draining.
A virtual assistant helps businesses or individuals with a variety of tasks such as scheduling meetings, preparing documents or posting on social media. Virtual assistants work from home and may have one or more clients depending on their capacity. They can also choose to only work specific hours, and many companies will choose to employ virtual assistants only for the morning, or the afternoon, based on their own schedules.
A translator translates documents from one language to another. This job can be done by people who are fluent in more than one language. Translators can often work from home on a flexible schedule.
Tutors help other people learn about a particular topic. Tutors can teach adults or children one on one or in a group. Some tutoring opportunities are online and can be done from home. As a tutor, you can control how many sessions you take on according to your capabilities.
Photographers work in a range of fields, usually in a freelance capacity. Like copywriting, freelance photography gives you the flexibility to decide which work you do and often when you do it. Some photographers work in a studio shooting products, some take school portraits and some work creatively as artists. Post production is a big element, and much of that can be done on your own terms—in the evening, in the morning or after a lunchtime siesta.
For people just starting out, working as a photographer’s assistant can help them get into the industry.
Photo editors sort through, enhance and fix photos for photographers or publications. Video editors put video and audio files together to create a final product. These creative jobs can be done on a part time or freelance basis, often from home. They’re also interesting, creative and often in high demand. A skilled video editor has the opportunity to work with exciting brands, creators and productions, and skilled photo editors can easily find themselves working in high profile magazines.
Need help finding a job that works for you? APM can help.
At APM, we understand that finding the right job and a supportive workplace that offers real growth opportunities is not always easy. We support people with chronic illnesses, including chronic fatigue syndrome, to find job opportunities that are right for them.
While we’ve provided some great roles in this article, the truth is that someone living with chronic fatigue syndrome can succeed and excel in any role they choose; with the right understanding and systems in place. We’re not just specialists in helping you find the right job, we’re specialists in supporting you through conversations with employers to help make adjustments to the job you want to do.
If you want to get back to work, we’re here for you.
Our employment consultants can help you with finding suitable job opportunities, accessing financial and mental health support and accessing workplace adjustments to help you feel confident in your role.
Register for Disability Employment Services with APM today.