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Finding work again after a very long time of being unemployed due to mental health

Wandering1993 Community member Posts: 13 Listener
Hi! for a bit of background - I haven't worked since my very early twenties and I am 29 now. There are a number of reasons why I haven't worked (anxiety, panic attacks etc.), but I decided to start a degree at 25 which I am coming to the end of now. 

I still struggle with anxiety but nowhere near as much as I did so I'm hoping to start looking for work once my exams are over but I am worried now about 1) explaining the massive gap to potential employers and 2) whether anyone would either consider me as I have very minimal paid work experience at my age. 

I'd love to hear anyone else's experiences if they've gone through something similar as I feel a bit defeated by it at the moment. 


  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,562 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi there @Wandering1993 thanks for posting today, and congratulations on reaching the end of your degree! I can share what I've found useful in my own experience, as someone who did a lot of volunteering before getting a paid role.

    It look me a few years of volunteering before I was able to get a paid job after my degree. I also volunteered a lot during my degree, to try and build up experience. It can feel pretty daunting if you don't feel like you have enough 'direct experience' of a job when you apply for it, but a degree gives you so many transferable skills.

    Some of the ones I can think of now are time management, project management, research, team working, balancing priorities, critical thinking. There's also interpersonal skills, can you think of times you've had to argue against someone's decision, or manage someone's expectations? You can use examples from whatever parts of life you feel comfortable with, but which demonstrate your skills and competencies. 

    One of the key things to practice, is having examples of skills that you've built up in your life so far, to use during the application, and then at interview. Remember that the application is to get to the interview, and the interview is to get the job itself.  

    Because of my disability, I also know that I'll not be able to work full time hours, which does sometimes feel like a disadvantage, depending on the employer and job role I'm going for. Other times, this is an advantage, and I'm trying to view it in this positive way more often. Sometimes you need to switch your own mindset first!

    If you're worried about this, think about persuading an employer that different ways of working are a positive thing to bring to an organisation, and that your perspective and lived experience is an asset, you'll be halfway there already.  

    It's also worth taking time to consider the type of role you'd feel happiest in, is it working with the public, or in a small team, or working from home? What kind of tasks do you excel at, creative ones, or process driven work?

    I hope what I've said makes sense and is useful for you. I know I've asked a lot of questions, and hopefully the answers can be a good base to build from in your search. Keep us updated with how you get on, and let me know if anything's not clear! :)

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  • Jo_2022
    Jo_2022 Community Volunteer Host Posts: 298 Pioneering
    Hello @Wandering1993 :). Welcome to the community! Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. 

    Well done for gradating and completely your education! 🎓 👏🏻 I feel you have so much to be proud of. Certainly volunteering shows that you are taking initiative and giving something back to society.   

    I hope you have found @Alex_Scope’s response helpful.

    Best wishes


    Community Volunteer Host with a passion for human rights.

    Please note: if I use the online community outside of its hours of administration, I am doing so in a personal capacity only.

  • Jo_2022
    Jo_2022 Community Volunteer Host Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @Wandering1993 How are you today? You may like to have a look at these resources on the Scope website:

    Good luck with your job search! 

    Community Volunteer Host with a passion for human rights.

    Please note: if I use the online community outside of its hours of administration, I am doing so in a personal capacity only.

  • Wandering1993
    Wandering1993 Community member Posts: 13 Listener
    Thanks, @Alex_Scope and @Jo_2022, I really appreciate both of you taking the time to reply to my message. 

    @Alex_Scope, thanks so much, that was really helpful to read someone else's experiences on a situation similar to my own. I totally agree with you on the volunteering and I am definitely going to look into that as well once my exams are over. I think getting experience, even voluntary should help get me back into work-life after being away from it so long. I just worry that an even longer gap without paid work will make my CV look worse, but I guess there's no use worrying about that just yet! Thanks again. 

    @Jo_2022, Thank you for the links, I will be sure to check them out! 

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