Jump to content

Recovery experience translatable to resume?

Posted

Hi All,

I am a new grad and looking for my first job. I am not picky, but I think psych would be the best fit at this time. I am having trouble fleshing out my resume, it looks kind of measly to me. Virtually all my significant employment has been under the table for my whole work life, almost 30 years. There are two home care jobs on there, employed by the family.

I was a tattoo artist for many years and while it is clear to ME that much of that skill set is transferable to nursing, I don't feel confident that an employer will read that, so it is not on my resume.

I am wondering if there is a way to convey the value of experience in my nine years of addiction/mental illness recovery to a resume. This has involved a lot of time spent giving regular support and helping other addicts in crisis. I do have experience working with homeless in shelters, which I put on my resume to apply for psych jobs.

Personal recovery experience is my biggest asset for a job in psych. How do I make it work to GET me a job?

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

In general, disclosing personal issues with mental health and addictions -- even if you have quite a bit of recovery time -- is a really, really, really bad idea. At least in nursing. Now, in some very specific settings, it might be okay and even welcomed to share this. But even in most psych/addictions-specific settings, any admission of mh/sa issues is going to flag you as a liability. It's an unfortunate mindset of you being one bad day away from stealing a patient's valium, y'know?

The homeless shelter stuff is great. Run with that. I think there are strengths to your tattoo artistry as well. But stay away from the mh/sa stuff.

While your time in recovery may help you with patients, it does not belong on a resume.

That is highly personal information that will be used against you in the selection process.

You can talk about helping others in crisis during an interview, but I wouldn't disclose that you were in recovery at the time.

Although those of us with MH history wish to believe that neurotypical people will be understanding, they rarely are.

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Oh heaven's no! Don't ever include personal information on your resume, application or other employment-related documents. It is indicative of very poor professional boundaries. This is a big red flag to potential employers.

While you may consider your personal recovery experience your "biggest asset" for psych nursing jobs, employers will not share that view. I would suggest you search for a nursing job the same way all the other new graduates do. And you might consider working in some other field than psych; in my experience, people who are drawn to psych because of their personal difficulties and experiences often end up finding the personal experience creates difficulties for them (and their work settings).

Some substance abuse recovery programs do prefer to employ people in recovery; that might be an option for you.

Best wishes!

Lev, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency - CEN. Has 7 years experience.

Also be careful about discussing your experiences with patients in general. I would not discuss my specific experiences and if I did I would say it as a general statement I.e. some people find.....or many people in recovery....

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

Also be careful about discussing your experiences with patients in general. I would not discuss my specific experiences and if I did I would say it as a general statement I.e. some people find.....or many people in recovery....

Excellent point. Imvho it is a slippery slope and one that is often mishandled by all but the most experienced clinicians. When someone is skilled at offering empathy and assistance they don't need to throw out first hand experience to get the point across. Self-disclosure usually turns the focus from the patient on to you which is not only inappropriate but will most certainly be used against you in the addictions arena.

Well that settles that. All great advice from people who know... this is a detour from getting jobs in the past when I walked in, told and showed my skills, and walked out with a job sealed with a handshake.

I need to not be intimidated by the process. It is totally new to me. I know I'll do ok, just have to suck it up, walk through the uncomfortable parts, and ask for help when needed!

I appreciate the honesty too!

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

Well that settles that. All great advice from people who know... this is a detour from getting jobs in the past when I walked in, told and showed my skills, and walked out with a job sealed with a handshake.

I need to not be intimidated by the process. It is totally new to me. I know I'll do ok, just have to suck it up, walk through the uncomfortable parts, and ask for help when needed!

And the great news is that at least in my experience psych jobs aren't usually very difficult to get. I don't understand it because it has been a great gig for me but for some reason people usually either love or hate it.

Oh heaven's no! Don't ever include personal information on your resume, application or other employment-related documents. It is indicative of very poor professional boundaries. This is a big red flag to potential employers.

lol....SAVED! from that fatal mistake only to discover another. I realized I submitted resumes to two great jobs that hire new grads...resumes which had cover letters to other employers at the end of the document. Shakin my head, laughin' at myself. Guess that's not the job I'm meant to get!

That's history and tomorrows a mystery. It's all good. I'm marchin' on!

Mavrick, BSN, RN

Specializes in 15 years in ICU, 22 years in PACU. Has 30 years experience.

As a new grad you, of course, will have a measly resume with regard to nursing. What you did before is mostly irrelevant. If you were a CNA, LPN, EMT or something healthcare related that would certainly be a plus but being a mom, retail clerk or sand sculptor is just what you did with your time before you applied for the new grad job.

Your recovery experience (i.e. Live and Let Live etc.) will be a major asset that you just can't take resume credit for. Unfortunately, nursing used to be a "walkaway with a job" kind of gig. I have been asked/begged to work the night shift before I got out of the interview. They would even provide me with a set of scrubs and a cafeteria voucher. It's so much more competitive now, especially for new grads. If the maturity that shows through in your posts is evident in your interview, I think you have some real potential at success.

Hang in there, Z, and keep marching on!

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 19 years experience.

Hi All,

I am a new grad and looking for my first job. I am not picky, but I think psych would be the best fit at this time. I am having trouble fleshing out my resume, it looks kind of measly to me. Virtually all my significant employment has been under the table for my whole work life, almost 30 years. There are two home care jobs on there, employed by the family.

I was a tattoo artist for many years and while it is clear to ME that much of that skill set is transferable to nursing, I don't feel confident that an employer will read that, so it is not on my resume.

I am wondering if there is a way to convey the value of experience in my nine years of addiction/mental illness recovery to a resume. This has involved a lot of time spent giving regular support and helping other addicts in crisis. I do have experience working with homeless in shelters, which I put on my resume to apply for psych jobs.

Personal recovery experience is my biggest asset for a job in psych. How do I make it work to GET me a job?

I think having personal experience in Recovery is a great asset for psych. On your resume I would put something to the effect that you have done crises counseling at homeless shelters and through 12 step recovery groups. When you are asked you can talk to the person interviewing about your personal journey. Just one word of advice - no need to go into all the gory details of your life. Just I am in recovery myself and have 9 years of sobriety" BTW - be careful who reveal to as it could land you in a monitoring program. If you already have you license and no criminal record keep your head up and stay humble.

Hppy

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 19 years experience.

While you may consider your personal recovery experience your "biggest asset" for psych nursing jobs, employers will not share that view. I would suggest you search for a nursing job the same way all the other new graduates do. And you might consider working in some other field than psych; in my experience, people who are drawn to psych because of their personal difficulties and experiences often end up finding the personal experience creates difficulties for them (and their work settings).

Some substance abuse recovery programs do prefer to employ people in recovery; that might be an option for you.

Best wishes!

I beg to differ as I was hired as a addictions nurse at the same facility where I went through outpatient treatment and worked there for 6 years before deciding to leave on excellent terms with my employer. They hired me when other facilities would not and they did know all the gory details. I was actually being monitored at the time as well and they were super in helping me get back on track with my career.

Big Blondie, ADN, BSN, MSN

Has 33 years experience.

I do not recommend putting it on your resume' Your attributes are fine. As far as being hired by where you went to treatment, they knew you. I believe the OP is talking about applying for jobs with employers she has no affiliation with. I had a potential employee put that he had smoked pot before on his resume' HR had a fit. Nothing I could do for him at that point. That was many moons ago but is an example of what not to do.

I beg to differ as I was hired as a addictions nurse at the same facility where I went through outpatient treatment and worked there for 6 years before deciding to leave on excellent terms with my employer. They hired me when other facilities would not and they did know all the gory details. I was actually being monitored at the time as well and they were super in helping me get back on track with my career.

Beg to differ with what? You say that you were hired to work in addictions. I specifically said that "some substance abuse recovery programs do prefer to employ people in recovery; that might be an option for you."

Ayvah, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Specialty. Has 10 years experience.

I would add your work as a tattoo artist as it does show job stability (if that was not 'under the table' work)

No no no! Never on resume. I agree that the homeless shelter experience etc could go on there, but nothing about your personal struggles. Even if the employer is recovery friendly they may worry that you will be too open with pts if you disclose on a resume. And it will close doors. For example, when I was in monitoring I was required to disclose (during interview, not on resume) and had one mgr tell me that she was so glad I was honest up front because addicts just do not belong in nursing, and often she finds out people have years of sobriety when they relapse which is inevitable....Those were almost her exact words. Now, I was glad in a way that SHE was up front because I would never want to work for someone so closed minded and ignorant about addiction and recovery. But, you Erik run into this a lot "we just never hire addicts" "it's our policy" "we've been burned too many times" etc.

Now, there may be a few jobs where it is appropriate to disclose near the end of the interview process...for example if you plan to work in a rehab. Some may even ask if you are in recovery. But if this happens I recommend emphasizing your long period of sobriety, why you will never go back, and what you learned. I would avoid specifics. But this scenario would be very rare. When in doubt, say nothing. If applicable to the job you can always just say you have worked with addicts and have learned xyz from it.