How do I address a spotty job history?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by penguinpc, Aug 10, 2016.

  1. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

    Sep 15, 2008
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    Aug 10, 2016

    Bear with me... (TLDR at bottom.)

    I am bipolar, which is important to know as it relates to everything that follows.

    I got my first teaching job in 1999, teaching third grade. I had struggling with depression and anxiety most of my teenage and adult life, but I was just starting to recognize that. In my fourth year teaching third grade at this school, I finally saw and doctor and got on Zoloft. Also, I had a new baby, about four months old. After I had been on Zoloft for a couple of weeks I had a break down, which had been a long time coming. I was out of school for four weeks after which I came back. Of course six weeks of medication and some counseling didn't cure me, it was just a start. I was very frustrated, and without even consulting my wife, I resigned at the end of the year.

    I substituted for the next two years, and then took a technology assistant job at another elementary school in the same district. That lasted for three years, after which I took a position in local government. It paid more, and I thought I was done with education. After six months at this new job, I realized that I belonged in education and that I wanted to be a teacher again. During this time I had been trying different combinations of medications to help me manage the symptoms of my bipolar disorder.

    After four years in local government, I was finally able to get a job teaching kindergarten. The school was in a wealthy neighborhood and there was a lot of pressure from parents. Also, the principal would always side with the parents, and never gave me any support. I was put on a growth plan. I began having severe anxiety problems. I was terrified all of the time. I was having chest pains. One morning, I had a panic attack before school. I called in sick for the day and went and saw my counselor and my psychiatrist.

    My psychiatrist didn’t listen to me and wouldn’t prescribe me any anti-anxiety meds. Consequently, I resigned a week or two later without two week notice or anything. It was one of the worst times in my life. I felt that if I stayed any longer, I would literally end up in the hospital.

    A few months later, insurance changed and I was forced to find a new psychiatrist. This turned out to be a huge blessing. My new doctor listened to me and began working with me to find a combination of meds that would not only help me deal with my depression/bipolar, but also my anxiety.

    Today, although my anxiety is not cured, it is now managed. I know that I am ready to return to the classroom and that I will not flake out this time.

    However, my job history doesn’t look good and I’m afraid it is hurting my chances of getting back into the classroom.

    When I get interviews (I’ve had a couple), how do I address what has happened to me? How do I explain that it will not happen again? Do I share any of what has happened to me?

    TLDR: Anxiety and depression cause me to quit after 4 years of teaching 3rd grade. Severe anxiety attacks caused me to quit teaching kinder after 2 months. Now I have a new doctor that listens and is helping me manage my anxiety. I know what has happened before won’t happen again. But because of all that has happened, I have a spotty job history. Do I address any of this in an interview? Do I try to allay any fears that interviewers might have about have about my reliability?
  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    May 8, 2008
    Likes Received:

    Aug 10, 2016

    You may want to explain, if asked, that you were dealing with a chronic illness that took several years to correctly diagnose and treat, but that you are now in much better health and are looking forward to returning to the classroom full time. This is not dissimilar to my husband's battle with Vitamin D deficiency so severe it almost killed him. It took one good doctor to run the right blood test.

    They don't need to know what your illness was, only that it is now under control.
  4. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

    Apr 29, 2008
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    Aug 11, 2016

    Yes, just say you were dealing with medical issues.
  5. newteacher99

    newteacher99 Rookie

    Nov 13, 2011
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    Aug 11, 2016

    You were dealing with some medical issues but now you feel better and ready to rock and roll.
  6. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

    Jul 19, 2014
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    Aug 11, 2016

    This is definitely an instance where you do not want to share too much information. Medical issue, end of conversation. If you are pushed on it, state it is personal and confidential information that doesn't affect your ability to do the job. If they hold it against you, so be it, but most savvy admin will walk away without pressing for more info. If they do press, you should walk away - their nosy gene will not bode well for your future with them. Mental illness is a disease like any other, yet someone who wouldn't think twice about learning you were, say, diabetic, may recoil with the MI diagnosis. You don't know what that means to them, so don't give them the ammo to go gunning for you. I work in a school associated with a mental health facility, and some of our staff have had brushes with MI, and they would be the first to say "less is more" when the subject is MI. Get the job, do the job, grow in the job, and if, down the road, you feel like sharing small parts of your life with others, do it judiciously.

    Be well, and good luck.
    newteacher99 likes this.

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