Finding the right ADHD career

If you are ADHD it’s NEVER for the money

Choosing a career can be daunting for anyone, but especially for people with ADHD. For most people extrinsic motivations like money and fear help to stay on track but for ADHD people it’s all about finding intrinsic motivation. We work because it’s compelling, interesting, and purposeful. So having ADHD does not mean that you cannot have a fulfilling and successful career. Many people with ADHD have unique talents and abilities that can make them excel in certain fields.

Evaluate your ADHD passions, skills and strengths

What makes a career a good fit? What separates those who are engaged and fulfilled, from those with set backs and regret? How can you make sure that you are in a job well-suited to you?

The starting point is to consider our neurology:
  • An under-stimulated mind seeks novelty, we like change and progress
  • Seldom do we wish to repeat a process, especially dull ones
  • People are often inherently more varied and stimulating than systems
  • Variety is the spice of ADHD life, a few projects/locations is often best
  • Money represents future reward, so does not motivate in ADHD
  • Alignment of interest and engagement with career is key
  • Entrepreneurship is the best and worst job for ADHD, no boss, no rules, no deadlines, perfect yet deadly
  • Process and administration are seldom captivating

Some questions to ask yourself


About your strengths

What do you do the best? Is it what you most like to do, if not what is? What are your work strengths? Where have you improved recently? Where do you wish you were stronger? Is that strength aligned with work needs? Which skills do you lack for excelling in your job?

About your rewards

What are you most proud of at work? What regrets do you have about your career? What are you not getting better at? What do you most dislike doing? Why? Are you recognised when you think you should be? If not, why not? In what way do you think your time could be better used to add value to your company or organisation? What sort of people do you work best/worst with? What kind of company culture brings out the best in you?

Some reflection

What was the most important lesson you learned from your parents about work? What lesson did your best boss teach you about yourself? What lesson would you pass to your children on how to manage their careers? What lessons have you learnt about being ADHD in work? If you could start again, what would you do differently?

Factors to consider when choosing an ADHD-friendly career

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what makes a good job for someone with ADHD. Different people have different preferences, goals, values, and motivations. However, there are some general factors that can help you narrow down your options and find a career that fits your profile. Some of these factors are:

Passion

People with ADHD tend to perform better when they are interested and engaged in their work. Passion can also help you overcome boredom, frustration, and procrastination. Look for a job that sparks your curiosity, creativity, and enthusiasm.

Variety

Adults with ADHD often get bored easily and so crave stimulation and novelty. Routine and repetitive tasks are to be avoided. Look for a job that offers diversity and challenge in your daily activities.

Structure

If ADHD you probably have difficulties with planning, prioritizing, and managing your time. You may benefit but perhaps not enjoy, clear expectations and feedback from your managers. You might look for a job that provides some level of organization and support in your work environment.

Autonomy

Our independent, sometimes rebellious natures , mean we often value autonomy and flexibility in our work - we have strong opinions and preferences about how we want to do things. Working independently and setting your own pace can help, hence the high number of ADHD entrepreneurs. Look for a job that allows some degree of freedom and choice in your work style.

Impact

Will you make an impact or difference in your work. Adults with ADHD often have high ideals and aspirations -driven by purpose or meaning in their work. Find a job that aligns with your values or mission.

Some common fields adults with ADHD work in

Here are some examples of jobs that may be good options for people with ADHD based on different personality traits or skills:

Creative jobs

If you are creative or artistic, you may enjoy jobs that allow you to express yourself through various media such as writing, painting, photography, music, or design. These types of jobs often require imagination, innovation, and originality - areas where people with ADHD often excel. Some examples of creative jobs are musician, artist, writer, graphic designer, interior decorator, or architect123. These types of jobs often require imagination, innovation, and originality - areas where people with ADHD often excel4.

"In the moment" jobs

If you are active or energetic, you may enjoy jobs that allow you to move around, you may prefer a job where your skills lie in immediate, unplanned action, not planned and protracted. Some examples of active jobs are ambulance driver, chef, nurse, or presenter.

Social jobs

People are infinitely varied and helping others is great for our own wellbeing. You may enjoy jobs that allow you to interact with other people and build relationships. These types of jobs often require communication, persuasion, and empathy - areas where people with ADHD may have strong skills. Some examples of social jobs are teacher, coach, salesperson, or entertainer. These types of jobs often require communication, persuasion, and empathy - areas where people with ADHD may have strong skills

Solo

Never good at following other people's orders, an appetite for risk, a love of "creating processes for other people to execute" perhaps running your own business or becoming an entrepreneur would suit. Adults with ADHD are six time more likely than usual to run their own business. The opportunities with AI and the internet are enormous and opportunity for creativity and passion.

All in context

With ADHD we are sensitive and picky about work. We are easily bored, hate routine, dislike politics and love original solutions. When we interview it is more important for us to see the office, meet our new colleagues, get a sense of admin and control. In the right jobs and careers people with ADHD are successful but in the wrong environment we collapse. Know yourself better, your strengths and weaknesses, what engages you and what doesn’t, what inspires and what irritates you. It certainly takes more effort to find a career that suits but it’s worth it.
ADHD Coach, Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis is an ADHD Coach, writer and founder of SimplyWellbeing. He has over 15,000 hours and 18 years of experience in coaching over 500 ADHD executives, ADHD business professionals and ADHD creatives. Andrew ran a major ADHD support group and an ADHD diagnostic clinic for a while. He is an ADHD specialist backed with business expertise from a twenty years career in software, from roles in programming, through marketing, sales and to running a few software start-ups. His ADHD insight is personal, with decades understanding his own ADHD experience and in bringing up his ADHD daughter. He has published his writing primarily via this website, with interactive ADHD courses in development.

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