Living with the ups and downs of bipolar disorder can make it challenging to manage the world of work. The good news is, there’s support out there to help you find work that’s right for you and feel confident in your role.
Whether you’re looking for a job or wanting to change careers, check out these steps to finding the best job for people with bipolar.
Step 1. Understand your strengths and challenges
Everyone has their strengths and challenges when it comes to work. Understanding what environments and roles you shine in will help you look for work that speaks to your strengths. Understanding what tasks and situations are challenging for you can help you find ways to avoid or overcome them.
Things to consider when brainstorming jobs for people with bipolar disorder:
- Workplace environment – many people with bipolar find that high stress environments can aggravate symptoms or trigger manic or depressive episodes.
- Schedule – experts recommend avoiding shift work or other schedules that disrupt your sleep pattern.
- Structure – for many people with bipolar, structure and routine at work helps them feel more grounded and in control.
- Flexibility – flexible jobs that allow you to work from home or take time off for recovery may help you feel more supported.
Do some research into different careers and what they involve. If you know someone working in the field already, consider reaching out to ask them some questions. Firsthand information about the day to day demands of a job may help you find direction.
Step 2. Speak with an employment consultant
An employment consultant can help you brainstorm career pathways and find job opportunities that are a good fit for you. They may even help you discover roles you haven’t considered before.
If you’re living with bipolar disorder and struggling to find work or keep a job, you could be eligible for support through Disability Employment Services (DES). It’s a government funded program which helps people living with injury, illness or disability find work and get the support they need to succeed in the workplace.
When you register for Disability Employment Services, you’ll get one-on-one help from an employment consultant who will get to know you and what you’re looking for in a job. They can help you with everything from brainstorming job ideas to writing your resume, getting further training or accessing mental health services.
Find out more: What is DES?
Step 3. Find suitable job opportunities
There are many ways to find job opportunities. To give yourself the best chance, try a range of different methods such as:
- Employment websites
- Job forums
- Careers pages on company websites
- Word of mouth
- Cold pitching
Networking is a great way to build relationships in your industry that could lead to job opportunities in the future. Try attending industry events, making connections on LinkedIn or asking someone in the field out for coffee.
Step 4. Get help writing your resume and cover letter
Your resume and cover letter are often the first experience an employer has of you. It’s your chance to stand out from the crowd and show them why you’d be the perfect candidate for the job.
Crafting the perfect resume can be tricky, so don’t be afraid to ask for professional help.
To make sure your resume and cover letter stand out, use keywords and synonyms from the job description. Talk about your most significant and relevant experience, skills and qualifications to show the employer you’re perfect for the role.
Give some concrete data and information to show (rather than tell) your skills and experience. Numbers, facts and figures are more convincing than overused general statements.
Don’t forget to make sure your resume looks attractive and is easy to read. Use a size 10-12 font such as Calibri or Arial, triple check for spelling mistakes and leave plenty of white space so the hiring manager can read the information at a glance.
Step 5. Prepare for job interviews
Job interviews can be nerve wracking, especially if you’ve felt overlooked or misunderstood in the past. Taking time to prepare and practice can help you go into the interview feeling more confident.
Research common interview questions and practice answering them aloud with a friend. Think of some real life examples you can use to back up your statements. For example, don’t just say you’re great at taking initiative – think of a time you showed initiative at work, school or in your life.
It’s also a good idea to research the company you’re applying to work for. This shows the interviewer you’re enthusiastic about the job. Think of a few questions to ask the interviewer about the role or the company.
Don’t forget to dress the part and arrive on time. It might help to visit the location a day or two early so you know where you’re going.
Step 6. Ask for accommodations
Workplace accommodations are changes in your role or the work environment that help you do your job well and safely. Australian employers are required to make reasonable adjustments and may even be eligible for funding to make some accommodations.
Accommodations can include things like:
- Flexible schedule
- Working from home
- Time off for medical and mental health appointments
- Reducing distractions
- Organisers and schedulers
- Note taking devices
- Scheduled break times to help manage stress
- Ergonomic equipment
If you’re not sure what accommodations you need, you can request a workplace assessment.
Bonus step: Ask for help when you need it
Navigating the world of work while living with bipolar disorder can be challenging at times.
It’s important to ask for help when you need it, whether that’s from an employment consultant, your boss or your healthcare team.
Having the right support can empower you to thrive at work. In fact, experts say working in a safe and supportive environment can have benefits for your mental health and well being. Whether you’re looking for work or finding it hard to cope in your current role, support is available to help you overcome the challenges and reach your goals.