For many people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), finding and keeping a job can be a challenge.
Even though you might live with symptoms like procrastination, reduced attention span and difficulty with time management - you can find a job which complements your needs.
On the flip side, qualities like creative thinking, hyperfocus and high energy can make a person living with ADHD the most desirable candidate for some job roles.
If you’re living with ADHD and want to find a job, we’ve got some helpful tips to get you started. In this guide to ADHD jobs, you'll find information about:
- Discovering job types that are right for you
- Writing resumes and job applications
- Succeeding at job interviews
- How to access support if you need it
What to look for in a job when you have ADHD
There’s no perfect job for a person with ADHD but there are some common themes that you might want to look out for when searching for a job.
Many people with ADHD struggle with short attention spans and lack of focus. Having a sense of purpose in your day-to-day work can help you stay focused and inspired.
When you feel passionate about what you’re doing, it can give you the motivation and drive you need to excel at your job.
If you’re passionate about looking after other people you might enjoy being a nurse. If staying fit and healthy makes you feel alive, you might enjoy being a fitness trainer. If there’s a topic that is really important to you, you might do well as an author or blogger.
For some people, ADHD symptoms like reduced attention span and feelings of boredom can be a real issue if a job is too slow moving or repetitive. Instead, these people may perform really well in a high-intensity, fast-paced work environment.
High intensity jobs include emergency service workers, police officers, sports coaches, security guards etc.
In these roles there is a sense of urgency and the action tends to be non-stop. If you’re good at thinking fast and adapting to changing environments, a high intensity job could be a good fit for you.
Some people with ADHD struggle with organisation and time management. Having structure built into the nature of a job can help them stay focused and in control.
This could include roles like project manager, accountant, factory assembly worker and bank teller. These jobs have a structured workflow and clear tasks which can help you manage time and organisation more easily.
Jobs with checklists, routines and clear instructions may help you feel empowered to do your best work.
Other people with ADHD are creative thinkers who work best with flexibility and the freedom to control their schedule, rather than a highly structured routine and hard deadlines. If that sounds like you, look for jobs which have a more flexible schedule or workload.
Work from home jobs like copywriting, transcribing and graphic design are good examples of flexible roles.
If a short attention span is a challenge for you, try looking for jobs that have a lot of variety. This could be jobs that have a stream of new customers such as a hairstylist or beautician. Or the job could involve changing environments such as a journalist or tour guide.
Consider career paths that allow you to keep learning and growing in your role. For example, tech industry jobs will require you to keep learning and growing professionally as technology evolves.
Are you a natural risk-taker? This quality may work to your advantage in some job roles.
For example, a stockbroker needs to take calculated risks in order to get impressive results for their clients. A small business owner needs to make courageous decisions in order for their business to grow.
How to start finding ADHD job opportunities
There are many ways to find a job including:
- Searching on job boards and career websites
- Looking on specific company websites
- Networking and asking people you know
- Cold calling or approaching a company directly
Finding the right job can take a long time and it’s natural to feel discouraged if you aren't immediately getting attention from employers.
If you are living with ADHD and having trouble finding work, consider getting support from the Disability Employment Services program by APM.
The Disability Employment Services program is a government funded initiative to help people who are living with injury, illness or disability find and keep a job.
As Australia’s largest Disability Employment Services provider, APM can help you find job opportunities that match your unique strengths, interests and abilities. We know what employers are looking for and can help you open the door to more opportunities.
How to write a resume and cover letter
A resume is a document you send to an employer to show them why you’d be an excellent candidate for the job.
It is usually accompanied by a cover letter which introduces who you are and why you should be considered for the role.
Your resume and cover letter are often the first contact an employer has with you. It’s your chance to create a good impression and increase your chances of getting a job interview.
In your resume you should include information about your:
- Education and qualifications
- Relevant work and life experience
- Relevant skills and qualities
Tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for by speaking about the key skills and strengths outlined in the job advertisement. Think of it from the employer’s perspective – what information is most valuable to them?
For more tips, have a look at APM’s guide to writing a persuasive resume and cover letter.
Job interview tips for people with ADHD
Job interviews can be daunting for anyone but for many people with ADHD, there are extra hurdles to overcome.
Trouble staying focused and fidgeting may send the wrong message to an employer. Forgetfulness can make it difficult to present yourself in the best light.
However, there are many things you can do to prepare for a successful interview. If you know what your challenges are, you can put measures in place to give yourself the best chance.
- Focus - Know what you want to say before you go to the interview. Prepare answers to common interview questions like “tell me about yourself”, “why do you want this job?” and “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”. Research the company and prepare 2 or 3 questions to ask the interviewer.
- Forgetfulness - Take brief notes about what you want to say in the interview and bring these with you. Use a check-list layout and tick off each item to keep track of what you have already talked about.
- Fidgeting - Don’t bring anything with you that may cause distraction in the interview such as a clicking pen. Practice interviewing with a family member or friends and ask them for feedback about your body language.
For more advice about interviewing successfully, read our job interview tips.
Coping at work with ADHD
Whether you struggle with time management, organisation or focus, there are many strategies that you can use to help you do your job well. These may be things you can do yourself, such as using planning apps and setting timers.
Your employer may also make reasonable adjustments to help you, such as giving you a flexible schedule or providing you with a private workspace.
If you are worried about coping at work with ADHD or losing your job, support is available. APM can help you access workplace modifications and support to help you feel confident in your role.
For helpful advice about succeeding in the workplace with ADHD, check out our guide on living with ADHD and holding down a job.
Best jobs for people with ADHD
Looking for job inspiration? Check out these 10 job ideas for people with ADHD to get started.
For professional career advice, get in touch with our team at APM. Our employment consultants can help you identify your strengths, brainstorm career pathways and find suitable job opportunities.
1. Fire fighter
Are you a quick-thinker who likes fast-paced environments? A career as a firefighter, policeman or emergency response officer could be a good fit for you. These high intensity jobs require motivated individuals who respond well under stress.
If you are empathetic, have a passion for helping others and can cope with high intensity environments, nursing might be a good fit for you. Many nursing roles are fast paced and require individuals with high energy and lots of motivation.
3. Fitness trainer
Do you thrive with flexibility and a changing environment? Are you also passionate about helping others be the best version of themselves? You might enjoy a career as a fitness trainer. To do well in this role you’ll need to have skills to motivate others and communicate effectively.
For some people with ADHD time management and organisation are challenging. A highly structured job with routine tasks may help you feel more confident at work. Accountants for example are responsible for managing the financial records of a company. Much of their tasks are repetitive with clear deadlines.
5. Hair stylist
If you’re creative, social and enjoy working with your hands, a job like hair styling, makeup artistry or beauty therapy might be a good fit for you. Whether you work in a salon or travel to different locations for each job, you’ll constantly be interacting with new people and completing new tasks.
Do you get bored easily but have intense curiosity for new information? You might enjoy a career as a journalist. The role involves gathering information and writing articles for newspapers, magazines or other publications. It’s a fast-paced industry with plenty of variety.
Are you a risk taker? Being able to take calculated risks is a highly desirable quality for careers such as stock brokering. A stock broker is responsible for buying and selling stocks on behalf of a client. To succeed in this role you’ll need to be confident and able to deal with high pressure situations.
8. Small business owner
If you’re a hyper-focused creative thinker, you might prefer to start your own business. To be your own boss you’ll need to take calculated risks, think outside the box and build strong connections with other people in your industry.
High energy, motivated individuals are often good at selling products or ideas. If you have good people skills and know how to use language persuasively, a sales representative might be a good career option for you.
10. Computer programmer
Are you the kind of person who always wants to learn something new? A career in technology could be a great fit for you. Jobs such as computer programming and software development require you to stay up-to-date with changes in technology. You’ll also need creative thinking and problem solving skills to succeed in these roles.
How to find a job and excel in the workplace when you have ADHD
Are you living with ADHD and want to find meaningful work? At APM, we believe there’s a job out there for you where you can thrive.
Every week APM helps thousands of job seekers find work and succeed in the workplace through our Disability Employment Services program. If you are diagnosed with ADHD, you could be eligible.
We can help you with:
- Career advice
- Finding job opportunities
- Writing resumes and job applications
- Preparing for job interviews
- Accessing further training
- Accessing mental health support
- Transitioning into your new job
- Accessing workplace modifications to help you do your job well
- Ongoing workplace support
Get in touch with APM today and let’s get to work!