How Your Alumni Network Can Help You in Your Job Search

How Your Alumni Network Can Help You in Your Job Search

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

The job search can be a stressful process, and it can be even more so in the digital age. Even under the most perfect of circumstances, it can be difficult to establish the networks we need to land the right job. For those of us in recovery from substance abuse or mental health conditions, the process can be even more challenging. We may even start to wonder if the struggle to find the right job will ever pay off. 

During recovery from addictions and mental health disorders, we do have resources we can rely on to aid in our job searches. One of the best resources we have at this time is our alumni networks. Networking is just one of the ways we can use the alumni network at First Steps Recovery. We can make acquaintances while engaging in group therapy or making contacts during alumni events. The individuals we meet at these events can become sources of references and referrals. 

Our alumni networks are also here to provide guidance when we need it. The friends we make can help us by relating their experiences during their job searches. It can be comforting to know that we are not alone. These mentors we meet through First Steps Recovery can help us know what works and what does not. Though it can be difficult, alongside others we can navigate the challenges of finding gainful employment and achieving long-term recovery. It helps to have an alumni network behind us to provide us with the assistance, guidance, and connections we need to succeed. 

Entering the Job Market During Recovery

One of the concerns many of us in recovery have is that we will not be considered employable by employers. This can be especially true if we have had run-ins with the law before seeking treatment. Nevertheless, there are a few special things to consider. Legally, we cannot be discriminated against for having a criminal record or being in a substance use treatment program.

If there are still concerns, we may want to consider second-chance employers. Some employers specialize in hiring individuals who have criminal records or who are in recovery from substance abuse treatment programs. These businesses acknowledge that the process of finding a job and facing these challenges is complex. However, they also know that the best people for jobs are sometimes those who have something to prove. 

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) educates businesses on the fact that employees who come from these backgrounds can be some of the most enthusiastic and dependable employees. As part of their education, the DOL advises these employers that such individuals may face stigma and discrimination and offers suggestions on how to overcome these barriers. By doing this, the DOL equips people in recovery to navigate the job field and empowers them to complete their employment journey with self-advocacy and resilience. 

What You Might Face in Your Job Search

Sometimes the problems we face in our job search come from misperceptions that others have about treatment for substance abuse. Other times, the prejudice we face may come from our own internalized fears and pressures. To overcome these stigmas, we must first understand them. Here are a few examples of stigmas we may face in the job search:

  • Social Stigma: This is the negative stereotype our society has regarding people who seek addiction treatment. This stigma is based on common misperceptions, and the best way to overcome it is to show people who believe these misconceptions wrong.
  • Self-Stigma: This term refers to the misconceptions that we apply to ourselves when we begin to believe the negative stereotypes that others apply to us.
  • Structural Stigma: This term refers to policies and laws that are prejudiced toward individuals in addiction treatment and recovery and prohibit them from getting jobs. 

How Gainful Employment Helps Your Recovery

Even though we may face barriers, relying on the contacts in our alumni network can help us find gainful employment. The good news is that finding a good job can aid in the recovery process. Finding a job can have a positive impact on our overall well-being and self-worth.

Having a good job provides us with a sense of purpose, gives structure to our lives, and offers stability that we may have lacked before seeking treatment. These things can lead to a sense of belonging and a feeling of being integral to the community around us. In a sense, we are expanding our alumni network every day we go to work. 

Using Alumni Networks in the Job Search

Sometimes we may feel that asking our alumni networks and mentors for help in a job search is unprofessional, but it is not. That is what they are there for. Alumni networks are there to keep us moving forward in our lives in recovery.

These are our peer support groups. The groups are full of people from similar backgrounds to our own. They want to help us succeed and find the right opportunities. Through their mentorship, we have access to the specific resources, benefits, and support we need to succeed in the tumultuous job search. 

Know Your Rights in Your Job Search

One of the most important keys when seeking gainful employment is to know our rights. No matter who we are, our rights are protected under federal and state laws. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has created a handy guide to help job seekers as they venture once more into the employment market.

It is important to understand and leverage the legal protections our government has afforded us. There may be many stigmas we face and prejudices in our society, but we can overcome them with knowledge. When we know the protections we have under the law and have our alumni network behind us, we can navigate the employment journey in an empowered way. 

Conducting a job search can be one of the most frustrating things we do. The job-hunting process can be long and unrewarding. Finding the right job at the right company involves being prepared and ready to put our best foot forward. Nevertheless, we may face many roadblocks, snares, and walls that are thrown up along the way. What’s more, being in recovery often means we lack the traditional support structures necessary for finding the right job. However, we have a new resource in the alumni networks we acquired during treatment and recovery. To find out more about how you can rely on a recovery network, call First Steps Recovery at (844) 489-0836 today.

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