Are you in the the ideal job for ADHD Adults? Of course, we all want to be in a job we enjoy, if possible. But does that mean it needs to be the right fit for an adult with ADHD to be a job you’ll enjoy? Let’s find out.
But, first, I would be remiss, especially right now, if I didn’t point out there may be times we need to work in a job that’s not a great fit so we can put food on the table. At least in the short run. If this is the case for you, good for you for sticking with a job to support yourself (and your loved ones)! I know it’s not easy.
Whether you’re in a position to look for a different job now or just thinking about the possibility of a future transition when the time is right, you might wonder whether there’s an ideal job for ADHD adults. You might even have googled “ADHD friendly jobs” or “best careers for adults with ADHD.” And found articles proclaiming:
- “There are dream jobs for people like you, who are creative and easily bored.”
- “Quit your job if you have one of these 10 worst jobs.”
- “Sales, entrepreneur, medical professional, teaching, etc. are the best jobs for adults with ADHD.”
And so, after stumbling on one of these articles you start to think, “Maybe I should…” Then you start googling how you can become an entrepreneur, teacher, etc. Before you go down one rabbit hole after another hit the pause button.
Is There an Ideal Job for Adults With ADHD?
Over the years, countless ADHD adults have asked me for help for the challenges they were having at work. And they often wondered aloud in our initial conversation, “Is it me or is it my job?” Obviously, I didn’t have an answer for them, as we had to discover this together. What we found, of course, is that it was a combination of factors.
In all cases, they needed to upgrade some combination of skills, tools, and strategies to be successful at work (and at home). But, after doing this sufficiently, some also discovered their work environment and/or job was just not a good fit for them, after all. In those cases where the questions continued to be about career fit, I referred them to a career coach/counselor for further help.
No surprises, yet, right?
What is interesting, though, is some who really enjoyed the content of their jobs were in careers, such as attorneys, listed as worst for ADHD adults. Others ended up not wanting to stay in their job. Even though their career was listed as ideal for ADHD adults. These included attorneys, teachers, and entrepreneurs/small business owners.
Yes, attorneys are listed as one of the best and worst careers for ADHD adults. Hmm… It makes you wonder how they determined the best and worst careers for ADHD adults, right? I think the takeaway is it’s safe to conclude that there are no ideal jobs for adults with ADHD.
So how do you decide which career, job and environment is a good fit for you, an ADHD adult? Is there a test for that?
Why Assessments Can’t Determine a Good Career/Job Fit
I’m sure you’ve taken your fair share of assessments, such as the MBTI. Maybe you took the MBTI to figure out your career path. While using an assessment might provide some good data points, it just won’t provide you all the information you need to make an informed decision.
In fact studies have shown that it is not effective at predicting peoples’ success in different jobs. And, even if it were, research has also found that almost 50% of people who take the test get a different score when they retake it 5 weeks later. Doesn’t give you a lot of confidence, does it?
According to ADHD career counselor, Wilma Fellman, assessments, including the MBTI, just don’t show the whole picture when considering a career fit. Rather, she suggests, to determine a good fit, it is necessary to consider your layers.
Consider Your Layers When Looking For A Good Career Fit
What are you interested in? Of course, you can only know this about things you know about. Do you need to have more experiences to discover more options? I didn’t grow up knowing I would become an ADHD coach, for sure!
What specific activities give you energy and satisfaction? What is it about these activities that energize you and give you satisfaction? Think of this when exploring the specific content of jobs you find interesting.
Similarly, what are your energy patterns? Someone who enjoys working with kids might consider teaching. But, if they get totally drained in a classroom, 1-1 counseling might be a better fit for their energy pattern. What kind of environments or tasks saps your energy?
What are your innate talents, those things that come naturally and easily to you? Having an opportunity to express these talents will bring you much more joy than being in a job where you feel like you’re swimming upstream. I know you get this!
What is your value system—what is important to you? Not sure? Check out this article from MindTools. For example, think of someone who really values spending time with family/friends and pursuing hobbies. While they may be interested in corporate law, they may find the work-life balance out of sync with their values.
What skills do you currently have? If attention to detail is just not a strong suit for someone, becoming an architect might be a reach, for sure. Even if they find the idea of being an architect really interesting. At least I wouldn’t want them working on my house. 😊
Determining the right career/job fit for you is obviously complicated. What other layers do you need to consider when thinking about whether your job is a good fit for you or not?
When You Are in the Right Career, But You’re Not Enjoying Work
Sometimes you might be in the right career and not enjoy your job, as the following fictional account about Ari based on past clients depicts.
When Ari, a solo practitioner, first came to me he was questioning whether the law was the right field for him. And, though he was excellent at his craft, he was beginning to consider other options. In part because he felt like an impostor.
As we began to work together it became obvious that Ari was in the right field. He was passionate about his area of focus. And his finished work was excellent when he gave himself enough time. Ari also valued his independence. So, being a solo practitioner was definitely the best way for Ari to practice law.
The question we faced together was how to create a practice he would enjoy, make a good income, and not feel stressed out. Because he felt like he was holding on by a thread when he first came to me…
Clients were often hounding him when he did communicate in a timely way. And he was often working at the 11th hour to get the work done on time. In addition, he wasn’t tracking his time or billing regularly. So, he was leaving money on the table…
While the specific tasks are likely different for you, does this sound familiar?
Change How You Operate to Enjoy Your Job
To turn this around, the first step Ari took was to create processes and systems to better manage all aspects of his business. When he did this, not only did he feel more grounded, but he also felt better about his skills as an attorney. And not like an impostor!
First, he got a handle on his commitments regarding client work, as well as the other essential parts of his business. Then he adopted the right processes and tools to help him execute this work. Along the way, he upgraded his executive functioning skills as necessary to be able to do this.
He also decided not to take on any legal work that was outside of his wheelhouse of expertise. As he became more selective in choosing his clients, his work felt easier, of course. Because he was doing what he was really good at. Makes sense, right?
And, once he felt solvent enough, he hired an assistant. So, he could delegate a lot of the administrative work, giving him even more time to focus on areas he was strong in and enjoyed. So, he could spend even less time doing work he didn’t enjoy and/or was a challenge for him.
After changing the way he worked Ari began to enjoy his practice much more. And no longer thought about leaving the legal field.
Like Ari, even if you’re dissatisfied with your current job, you may discover you’re still in the right career. But you may just need to tweak how you operate. Of course, the amount of latitude you have in changing the parameters of your job will depend on where you work.
When Your Work Environment Doesn’t Work for You
What if you really enjoy the content of your work and feel it plays to your strengths, but can’t change the aspects of work you don’t enjoy? Sure, maybe you need to upgrade your skills. But it might be that the environment where you’re working is just not a good fit for you.
All too often ADHD adults overlook the possibility that their work environment is just not a good fit for them. Rather, they assume it’s their fault and they need to make the changes. If this is true for you, take time to consider whether you need to get out of Dodge because your workplace is characterized by:
- strict rules that don’t allow for individual accommodations or creativity.
- lack of teamwork.
- mistakes seen as a strike against you, rather than as opportunities to learn and grow.
- a hierarchical system where the boss is always right and can’t be questioned.
- a feeling that you are always on-call – expected to answer emails at all hours and days.
- “turf wars.”
- a lack of consideration for your responsibilities outside of work.
You get it.
If your work environment isn’t working for you, google “toxic workplace.” You’ll likely find a few descriptions that sound familiar to your situation. If this is the case, in addition to learning how to manage your ADHD better at work, you might also need a new job. Maybe you already know that?
The Ideal Job for ADHD Adults
You’ll have to take time to explore your preferences and needs when it comes to finding the right career and workplace. This will mean including the strengths and challenges associated with your ADHD. But it will also be necessary to look beyond this, of course.
Because you are more than your ADHD, right?
And there just isn’t a test that will tell you what you want and need in a job.