Job Interviews: How to Address Your Recovery-Related Employment Gap

Employment gap

While many addicts never miss work even while acting out, the reality is that our addictions tend to take a devastating toll on our employability. Many of us are fired from jobs because of drug or alcohol use, while others simply struggle to find work at all.

Time spent in rehab can lead to significant gaps on the resume as well.

When I first went up for a job interview in sobriety, I already had a checkered past with gaps in my resume. My sponsor told me to be honest. “Tell the interview committee you’re a sober alcoholic, and you’re working a program of service.”

I chickened out. I couldn’t do it. I made up some story that satisfied the committee, and it worked.

A few years later, I relapsed. As a result, I lost my job. I was out using and homeless for a while, then in a sober living home. Finally, I was clean enough to apply for a job again.

This time, the age of the internet had arrived. I have an unusual name, and anyone who googled my name could quickly find out that I had lost my previous job due to my addiction. I couldn’t bluff my way through as I had before.

The web forces us to be honest; it is much harder to hide a past today than it was just 10 or 20 years ago. As a result, we have no choice but to address the gaps and black marks that may appear on our resume.

Though the culture and technology have changed, my sponsor’s advice is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. There is rarely a way to hide a past from an interview committee—and even if you succeed, you may be discovered after you’re hired, which can lead to more problems.

“I am a sober alcoholic (or a clean addict), and I work a program of recovery. I am eager to be of service to your company.” These simple words, said with honesty and humility, can clear up many doubts and remove the need for further questions. If the company has a problem with your past during the hiring stage, rest assured that they would have an even greater one if the truth was concealed from them.

We can’t control other people. We can’t control how they will react to our past and our stories. We can control how honest we are. Though you should always consult your sponsor and recovery team members, the best advice is to suit up, show up, tell the truth and as they say in program, “stay out of the results.”

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