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Any tips on how to handle a difficult employment situation?

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  • Any tips on how to handle a difficult employment situation?

    Hi everyone.

    I've been having a lot of trouble being active here or anywhere else online lately because my employment situation is extremely bad and I don't know how to handle the TS connections or some of the more general issues. Being unemployed is really killing my ability to be an organized and motivated person. This really sucks because I have some pretty good plans for TS-related stuff but I think I may be developing some psychological problems.

    This is America-centric if that matters. I would post elsewhere but I have not done any of my TS-community posting outside of here since Steve was providing so many good resources and I liked the community. If anyone has a suggestion for another forum or site that might be able to offer me some advice I would love to hear about it.

    Brief background
    *I was committed to a career in Molecular Biology research until I was 33 when I received my diagnosis of Tourette's and ADHD as an adult. Having to understand what that meant was not compatible with an 80+ hour a week post-doctoral position and the University had nothing in place to help. I was in fact encouraged to accept a Master's degree and leave.

    *This was 2009 so the economy was in the process of going down the tubes. I could not find a job despite all of the applications I was sending out. I had a single interview. I had to do something.

    *I spent ~3 years attempting to train for a position as a school teacher while working as a substitute teacher. But my social emotional sensitivities were not something that I realized would be a problem (I was used to a university/laboratory social environment) and I ended up giving up on that and leaving with a case of clinical depression and possibly some PTSD (those two thankfully dealt with, but I'm still battling some effects and worried that I am getting depressed again). I have been unemployed since that time. I have had no post graduation jobs related to my education and career experience.

    *I spent six months trying to teach myself what I needed to be able to try pharmacy technician. I was just resorting to this though and my wife and psychologist encouraged me to try something I wanted, in this case trying for science jobs again now that I know more about what TS and ADHD are doing to me. ~1.5 years later and many applications later I have had one interview.

    Current TS-related issues
    1) I need to know why I am not catching people's attention. I am concerned that resume's and cover letters are somehow socially "off" because of TS-related social issues and I don't know how to figure this out except by trying an investigational interview and being honest about everything (I am going to need some general looks at my resumes though). I have been paranoid about mentioning any neurological issues when it comes to applying. Despite the law things happen. I have emailed one person in government work related to this. The first email was a general request for an informational interview and they were friendly to it. In the reply I mentioned the neurological complication in general and mentioned that if they did not feel they were able to help me I would understand. That was yesterday and I have not yet heard back.

    2) I recently learned that I have no sense for professional social connections and thinking back I can see that I have been repelled by the thought of actively connecting socially in a professional context. I got by on good work quality and the support of respected scientists when it came to getting into a pretty good graduate school. So I basically have no networking connections or skills. I'm working on how to fix this in my career area but I'm wondering if any of you have any comments or suggestions about this.

    Current "Non-TS-Related" issues (it might be in there somewhere).

    1) Not having a Molecular Biology job since I got my degree five years ago probably looks bad on my resume.
    2) Trying to switch to teaching probably looks bad on my resume as well as the ~3 years as a substitute teacher.
    3) Two years of unemployment probably looks bad on my resume.

    These "non-TS" issues could be dealt with by simply being honest about the whole thing, but that risks a lot and I have no networking skills so am not sure how to go about this. I had no idea what the diagnoses meant and thought I had to leave science. After time away to think and gain perspective I learned that is not the case and want to go back very much. I also want to justify more effort getting motivated about my TS-related projects so I need to figure this out. I would actually love to have a job doing TS outreach and activism but have to get some projects done to demonstrate that I have learned something about it over the last five years.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

  • #2
    Re: Any tips on how to handle a difficult employment situation?

    Hey Flutterguy, sorry this response is so long after your posting.
    On reading your synopsis, my initial thought is that I hope you are feeling well and have gotten treatment (whether meds or therapy or both) for the depression. I also hope that the ADHD symptoms are treated if they are getting in your way.
    It's easy for us to focus on one area of interest in an all-or-nothing fashion, like I sense may be happening with your area of choice as a scientist. You mentioned you would like to be involved in TS outreach; have you put any thought into becoming certified to teach CBIT techniques? Or possibly switching your area of scientific inquiry to neurology/neuropsychiatry?
    What do you see as being your strengths? Is the ADHD an issue in following through on projects without set deadlines?
    Gina Higgins
    MD, CCFP


    • #3
      Re: Any tips on how to handle a difficult employment situation?

      Well, I've been inactive on the forum for some time, and I guess you have too.

      I have learned a lot from your posts here.

      I think you can take your CV to a community college job placement center for feedback. Also, there is probably a local office in your town that can give you feedback on it. Some sort of Workplace office that helps people who are unemployed. If you call a general information and referral number in your town, they will probably know what there is where you live.

      Also, there may be some sort of forum where one can upload a CV (with personal identifying information removed) to get feedback.

      If you upload it here (again, remove personal identifying information), I can give you feedback.

      When you show it to people who have less academic training than you have, there will be limitations as to how useful their feedback will be; but still, it's good to get different perspectives. Also, each time you show it to someone, you are confronting a fear, and through controlled exposure, hopefully the fear will get easier to handle.