Steps to help you look for a job in recovery

Jobs don’t just bring purpose and stability- they can be an effective relapse prevention tool. Some addiction interventions include employment as part of the recovery process, and studies have shown that this helps people stay sober. Because of this, looking for a job is a solid addition to any relapse prevention plan.


Looking for a job can feel daunting, especially if you’re in the middle of getting addiction help, have gaps in your CV or have struggled with employment before. This guide will help you get started.

Building a CV


Your CV summarises your experiences, strengths, education, and training, so start by listing these. You don’t need to include everything you can think of—only what’s relevant. 


To avoid your CV getting skipped, research putting together a strong CV for that role or sector. Creative jobs will want to see a portfolio, while customer service jobs will want you to emphasise your communication skills, so tailor it to that industry.


  • Keep it short: On average, employers look at CVs for 6-7 seconds. Spotting relevant experience or skills will catch their attention. Long, badly formatted or misspelt CVs will make them skip over it. Keep your CV at 1-2 pages at most and check it for errors.

  • Ask a professional for help: The National Careers Service offers free advice on CV writing. Some people hire a professional CV writer to help them craft a strong CV. If you aren’t a technical whizz, there are free CV templates available online you can use to make it eye-catching.

Looking for a job


A lot of job searching is done online. Websites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Total Jobs will help you access thousands of jobs, but there are industry-specific websites too.

If you want to look for a job in person, the days of handing your CVs out to businesses are over – most places will tell you to apply online. However, you can look for local career fairs and networking events and register at agencies. A good recruitment agency can help you tune up your CV and brush up on your interview skills as well as look out for suitable jobs.

Preparing for an interview


There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for approaching an interview, but being prepared will always make it go more smoothly.


  • Research the company: Being asked what you know about the company and why you want to work for them is extremely common. Read their website, and research them online.
  • Find out what they might ask you: If it’s a big company, you might find some of the most common interview questions online. If it isn’t, research common questions asked for that specific role. Make a list of questions and write down your answers.
  • Practice: A recruiter, job coach or even a friend can help you prepare. Give them the questions and practice answering them confidently.

The interview


  • Dress well and be on time: Not all interviews require a suit or formal business wear, but it’s important to look smart. Research the company or the sector for tips on how to dress for that role. Being early is important, and helps you get a feel for the place you’re interviewing at and time to collect your thoughts.
  • Prepare for tricky questions: Even the most prepared candidate can still get questions they don’t immediately know the answer to. That’s fine – the important thing is how you handle it. You can ask the interviewer to reword the question or give examples. You can even write the question down and come back to it later.
  • Ask the interviewer questions: At the end of the interview, you’ll usually be asked if you have any questions. A lot of people aren’t prepared for this, but it’s a great way of displaying your interest in the job and showcasing any information you have picked up from your research. Having a couple of questions prepared for the interviewer can give you an edge.

Disclosing addiction and recovery


Disclosing recovery in an interview is a tricky topic. Generally, an interview will focus on your skills, strengths and suitability for the role, and personal details like long-term recovery plans aren’t relevant. 


However, if your addiction has caused you to have gaps in your employment history, it could come up. If it does, you can do the following.


Remember, addiction is a mental health issue

You might feel like your past is something to be ashamed of, but it isn’t. Recovery from drugs or recovery from alcoholism should be thought of similarly as recovering from depression, illness or surgery.


Avoid unnecessary detail

You will have a lot of emotions tied up in your recovery, and it can be a significant part of your life story. However, an interview isn’t the place to get into that. Be concise, honest and factual.


Frame your recovery as a strength

Remember – some things that make you suitable for a job might have been acquired from experience rather than a previous job or education. Overcoming adversity, personal growth and self-efficacy are all tools you learn and develop in addiction recovery. These are transferable skills and are an asset for any employee. Think about what you’ve learned in recovery that translates into being a strong employee.

Celebrate those successes and milestones


Looking for a job is hard work, so give yourself credit for sticking to the task. Set yourself a goal for a certain number of applications and reward yourself for hitting it. Celebrate securing an interview, and acknowledge all your hard work once you’ve finally secured that job you were going for – you’ve earned it.


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