Searching for a Job with M.E.

I realise I have been a bit quieter in the world of blogging recently and so I thought I’d do a post that sort of explains that (at least one of the reasons for it) and may actually be a little bit useful for someone out there… maybe. I have been trying to find a job, which may sound like a bit of a lame excuse but it’s taking so much energy that it’s pretty much taking a lot of my online time away from the blogosphere (if I’m using that right).

Also I should probably say that I am in no way qualified when it comes to job searching. I just wanted to share some things I’ve found useful and thought it could be a good way to start a discussion that might help some people. I always get paranoid and feel like I have to include these disclaimers!

I feel like I should do a bit of an introduction here, because I probably haven’t spoken much about this for a while, since I attempted self employment a while ago at least. Hello, I’m Rhiannon, I’m 29 and have never had a job. This may sound odd but I was first diagnosed with M.E. when I was 15 and, to be honest, I’m only just well enough to really consider getting a part time job. And when I say part time I do mean part time, 10 hours is pretty much all I can manage. Before now not only would it have had a negative impact on my health, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been stable enough health wise to be a decent employee.

It’s a bit of an odd feeling knowing that, beyond two weeks work experience when I was 14, I haven’t been in a workplace. I’ve done my school work, mainly from home since being ill, and then gone onto a degree from home and volunteering from home. I have zero experience in the work place, my CV is definitely looking empty and it’s hard to find a job that would work for me either because of the hours, remote working or the fact that I just am not qualified for a lot of the remote work.

I feel like, if I found the right job, I could be quite good and make a decent amount, not enough to live off with those hours but at least have some feeling of independence. This is starting to feel a bit like I’m selling myself to a future employer so I’ll stop, but you get the picture. But it’s the lack of any experience and not knowing where to start or how to sell myself that I found such a big stumbling block. Thankfully I’ve got onto the health and work program and have a great advisor who’s helped me a lot and can’t recommend the program enough if you can get on it in the UK.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a post with some tips and ideas as well, I know there’s probably a lot of us out there who are in a similar situation. It’s odd being at the point where you can probably do some work but not in an office and not full time, or even what some consider part time, with no real CV besides qualifications studied at home and some old work experience.

These are things I’ve found helpful, or things to think about anyway.

  • Know your limitations. For me it’s the hours and working remotely. Though I could get into a local business once or twice a week I know that if I didn’t work from home at all then I wouldn’t be able to manage even the shorter hours that I can now. I know that working at the computer for a couple of hours every day isn’t as tiring for me as going into an office for even half an hour every day. You know your body and what you can do without it having a negative effect on your health. Write down the limitations and stick to them. If the dream job comes up but it’ll make your health worse because it’s too long or too far away then it isn’t right for you, try not to get tempted to apply anyway!
  • Consider an internship. This may sound weird, to be honest I’m not sure how much I agree with unpaid internships, but it’s a way to get the experience while looking for a paid job. These are often short term and you get to learn about whatever field it is your trying to get into. It would mean X amount of time without income, but if you wouldn’t be earning money anyway then you’re gaining skills and experience and you have something to fill the gap in your CV.
  • There are free qualifications available. I don’t mean degrees, but the sort of thing that may help you get back into work. I’ve recently signed up to a credited customer services course with a college and it’s all online. You get a certificate at the end that’s recognised across the country and it can fill gaps in your knowledge. They are rather specific but may help to add to your CV. If you do decide to try these then make sure they’re a proper credited course and you will probably have a certain amount of time that you’ll need to do it in or there will be a fee but I think it’s worth it, especially as I have no customer service experience and a lot of remote jobs want that.
  • Have a CV ready. You probably already have one if you’re actually looking for jobs, but having a well set out CV saved as a word document file makes applications so much easier. A lot seem to prefer a standard word document without tables or any layout so keep it basic when applying online.
  • Ask around and see if there are any companies that other people with chronic illnesses have worked for before. If you’re part of a Facebook group as on there, or just see if anyone knows of companies in your area who have employed people working remotely and make contact. It’s a bit like handing your CV into all the shops in a shopping centre but in a virtual way.
  • Join and check regularly on job searching sites. I’m only on a couple and Indeed seems to have a lot of remote ones updated regularly. I get emails every day for a couple of my searches and it saves trawling through all of the results to find the new ones. Plus it means if any that sound good pop up I can check them that evening and send my CV off. I’ve missed out on a few early on by waiting a few days and the job disappears.
  • Get a balance when looking for jobs. This is one I’m still learning, as you can tell from my lack of blogging schedule recently. Basically, although it is important to have a job, if you can can please try to balance everything else in your life too. I’m not the best at this recently and job searching, along with a couple of other things, have taken all my energy. I’m going to try and change this going forward so I’m better at sifting out the jobs worth looking out rather than spending hours trawling through jobs that, although they’d be a dream job, just aren’t realistic right now.
  • I guess that leads onto my final point; be realistic about what you can do. This does go in the first point of knowing your limitations but I feel like it’s so easy to get carried away when you see a job you know you can do with fantastic pay and benefits and something you’d love but it’s just not a realistic possibility right now. I’ve spent a while researching companies for these dream jobs and it just ends up with hours of time and energy wasted on things I probably shouldn’t have considered in the first place. It sound harsh but it’s the reality of the situation. Try to learn to recognise which jobs are actually realistic for your situation.

These may all seem like obvious things and any ideas or tips you guys have it would be good to hear. Maybe we can help each other in the comments and share if you’ve found a job online some other way.

I hope this wasn’t too long and too much of a wall of text. I’m sure I’ll have missed something but it might be useful to someone. Hope you’re all doing ok in this recent heatwave and keeping cool! I know I haven’t done many posts on M.E. recently but I have some planned, any topics you’d be interested in sharing about I’d love to know as I’m never sure what might be useful or interesting when it comes to these types of posts!

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