Real tips on finding and keeping a job with chronic fatigue

Living with chronic fatigue syndrome and having trouble finding a job that’s right for you?

Symptoms like extreme fatigue, muscle pain and sensitivity to noise can make it challenging to keep up with the demands of a workplace when you are living with chronic fatigue syndrome.

If you have had time off work because of your condition, getting back to work can feel daunting. It’s important to find employment opportunities that can help you manage your symptoms and thrive.

In this guide, we cover a range of information and advice about how to find work and how to keep a job with chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis.

We’ve included tips about:

  • Figuring out what job types are right for you
  • Finding suitable job opportunities
  • Writing your resume
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Managing in the workplace
  • Where to find help if you need it

Can you work with chronic fatigue?

Although everyone’s situation is different, many people with chronic fatigue syndrome are able to work. Flexible workplaces and alternative scheduling can help people with chronic fatigue find a solution that works for them to manage their symptoms day to day.

At APM, we believe everyone has the right to experience the benefits of work. We have seen first hand how getting back to work can help people feel more independent, give them a sense of purpose and increase their confidence.

If you want to work but aren’t sure how to find a job that’s right for you – we are here to help. Chronic fatigue syndrome is one of the supported conditions for APM’s Disability Employment Services program.

You could be eligible for support to find work and manage in your job with confidence.

Figuring out what types of jobs are right for you

The experiences and challenges of living with chronic fatigue syndrome affects everyone differently.

It’s important to find job opportunities where you can use your unique skills, feel engaged and supported to manage your symptoms.

What are you good at doing?

Think about your strengths, skills and past experience. Whether you’re good with computers, have a head for maths or know how to make others feel great – look for work opportunities where you can use your skills and strengths.

What are you interested in?

Do you have a special passion? Are you curious about a certain topic? When you find work in a field that you’re interested in, it can help you feel motivated and energised.

What are your challenges?

For many people with chronic fatigue, symptoms like tiredness, difficulty concentrating and issues with short term memory can make working a challenge. Think about workplace environments which will minimise your challenges. You may also be eligible for support and workplace modifications to help you manage your symptoms on the job.

Job ideas for people with chronic fatigue

Work in a low-stress job

If standing up for long periods of time intensifies your symptoms, you might be better off working in a low-stress environment where you can sit down or stand up as it suits you.

For example, administration, call centre and library jobs tend to place less demand on the body. In many cases they involve a mix of standing and sitting tasks.

Choose a flexible role

Some jobs are more flexible than others. If working a 40 hour week is unmanageable for you, consider a role where you can work part time or have more flexible hours.

Many jobs in the teaching and childcare field are part time and adaptable. For example, you could work 2 days a week as a teacher’s aid, tutor students after school or look after children as a babysitter.

Work from home

Working from home can give you the ultimate control over your schedule which means you can rest when you need to and even work from bed if you need to.

Whether you’re a creative thinker, a persuasive writer or an effective marketer, there are many jobs that can be done from home. Graphic designers, copywriters, web developers, virtual assistants and bloggers can all work remotely, just to name a few.

Start your own business

When you work for yourself you have more control of your work hours, pay rate and time off. Think about the skills you have and whether you could turn them into a business.

For example, if you are trained as an accountant you could offer tax accounting services. If you have mathematical knowledge you could tutor students. If you’re artistic, you could create and sell works of art.

Where to find employment opportunities

There are many ways to find job opportunities. It’s best to use a range of job searching techniques as not all job vacancies are advertised.

Search on job boards and career websites

There are a wide range of job boards on the internet including smaller niche industry job boards. Search for jobs on a range of job boards and look at the career pages of companies you are interested in working for.

Ask people in your network

Your network is the people you know. They could be friends and family, former colleagues, people you went to school with or ex-bosses. Spread the word that you are looking for work and you might be surprised what opportunities arise. Social sites like LinkedIn can help you stay in touch with and broaden your network.

Approach an employer

If you are interested in working for a particular company but can’t find any job openings on their website, try reaching out to them directly. You can call, email or visit their place of business to introduce yourself and see if they would be interested in hiring you. Take time to prepare what you are going to say and be ready to show evidence of your skills.

Register for Disability Employment Services

Searching for a job can take a long time and it’s natural to feel discouraged along the way. Sometimes a little help is all you need.

If you have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, you could be eligible for APM’s Disability Employment Services program. We help people living with injury, illness or disability find meaningful employment and manage in the workplace.

Writing your resume and cover letter

Your resume and cover letter should show an employer why you are the best candidate for the job. These documents are often the first contact an employer has with you so it’s important to put your best foot forward.

You should include information about your:

  • Education and training
  • Achievements and awards
  • Skills and qualities

However, you don’t need to include everything on your resume. Instead, tailor the information to suit the specific role you are applying for.

Particularly look at the keywords an employer used in their job advertisement. Mirror these keywords in your resume and cover letter. Back up your skills and qualities with real-life examples of how you demonstrated these.

For more information, read APM’s guide to writing an effective resume and cover letter.

Preparing for job interviews

Job interviews can be daunting and it’s natural to feel nervous. Taking time to prepare and practice what you are going to say can help you feel more confident about the interview.

  • Write down the strengths and qualities that you will bring to the role. Think of some real life examples of when you demonstrated these in the past.
  • Research the company or organisation that you are applying for. Understand who they are, what they do and their values.
  • Think of a few questions to ask the interviewer about the role, the company or the workplace.
  • Practice answering common interview questions like 'why do you want to work for us?' and 'where do you see yourself in five years?'

Check out our job interview tips for more information.

Managing in the workplace with chronic fatigue

Are you worried about keeping your job or returning to work because of your symptoms? You don’t have to manage on your own.

At APM, we help people like you with chronic fatigue and other conditions get the workplace support they need to feel confident in their job.

We work closely with you and your employer to find solutions that help you do your best work. Our WorkAssist and Disability Employment Services programs are government funded which means they come at no cost to you or your employer.

Workplace modifications could include:

  • Allowing you to take regular breaks throughout the day
  • Changing your work hours to be more manageable
  • Working from home
  • Flexible start/finish times
  • Allowing time off for appointments
  • Changing the workspace layout
  • Ergonomic equipment such as an adjustable desk
  • Providing a quiet place where you can rest without disturbance

At APM, we understand that everyone is different. We work closely with you to find the solutions and support that are right for you.

Need help finding or keeping a job? APM is here for you.

We help thousands of job seekers find meaningful work that suits their unique strengths, abilities and challenges. And we’re ready to help you too.

If you are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, you could be eligible for our Disability Employment Services program.

When you register, your dedicated Employment Consultant can help you with:

  • Finding suitable job opportunities
  • Writing job applications, resumes and cover letters
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Accessing workplace accommodations and support to help you thrive in your job

Ready to get started? Register today.