Frankly speaking, I have a history of depression, ADHD, and personality disorder. I am under treatment for the last 8 months. But, before that, I had 3 jobs and I either:

  1. gave up in improper way
  2. a situation arose such that I was forced to leave
  3. got sacked

Now, I am 35 and stuck in a circle of a lack of proper or credible work-history and unemployment.

How can I get out of this vicious circle?

  • You need to solve your issues before you can come back, once you're in a stable state, you can consider breaking the viscous cycle that these issues are causing. One suggestion would be to do voluntary work related to your field that you can handle. It can help pad the CV and allows you to bring something to the table if you make it to an interview. – Dandy Dec 21 '16 at 6:23
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    @Dandy, after getting a stable state, how can I prove that I am stable? – user40376 Dec 21 '16 at 7:25
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    You start job hunting and you don't mention it unless you absolutely have to in the interviews. Unless you feel comfortable and like telling the potential employer that information, you say nothing. If you're comfortable, you simply tell them how it impacted a past role, but is no longer an issue and is completely under control. – Dandy Dec 21 '16 at 7:28
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    some part-time job, could be a start to check with yourself if you're stable. – Walfrat Dec 21 '16 at 8:14
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    If you are getting treatment, ask your treatment specialist for resources. They may know of job leads or places that have worked well for other patients, or at least have some resume and job search tactics that will help you get back into the workforce. They might even have professional resources available for you at a discount or free of charge. – LeLetter Dec 22 '16 at 16:14

Start slowly and don't try to do everything at once. When you're feeling up to it (don't set yourself up for failure), try something very part time like a volunteer position or an inexpensive class. I mention a class because having to show up regularly and have your work graded might be a good way to test your coping skills for when things don't go well, and even if things don't go perfectly, taking a class still shows that you're trying to learn and grow which always looks good on a resume.

Edited to add: please take volunteer positions seriously. You would have to do something pretty bad to actually get fired from a volunteer position, but that doesn't mean you can't hurt your reputation by doing a bad job or being unreliable. I'm the volunteer coordinator for a local gamejam and while I try to be forgiving of people who are very young and have never held a real job before, I've dealt with volunteers who I couldn't honestly give a good reference for. That said, all you need to do is give as much notice as you can if you can't make your shift, communicate whether you will be able to make the other shifts you're scheduled for (one of my biggest pet peeves is when volunteers tell me they can't make it to one shift, so I give them a different one and then they tell me they can't make it to that one either), and try to make yourself useful when you do show up.

If the part time volunteer position/class goes well, try asking for more hours or taking a more demanding course and slowly build up to fulltime hours. I recommend going slowly because dealing with depression alone, for example, would be a massive amount of work. Depression + ADHD + personality disorder + treatment + job would be a totally unreasonable amount of work to take on all at once.

Building up slowly also gives you a bit of a history to point to (and potentially some references) when you start looking for a fulltime job and need to prove you're trustworthy. Don't look at your employment history as a bad track record from a terrible employee no-one should hire, look at it as proof that you can take stock of a situation you don't like, figure out what the core problem is, and fix that problem. It's really useful in a lot of fields to have someone around who will recognise it and speak up when things aren't working.

Depending on what kind of work you do, networking (kind of a terrible term for going out and being friendly) can help a lot. It only takes one good job to break the cycle, which means you only need one friend of a friend to take a chance on you.

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Once you are confident you are ready to work, you need to start working on building a set of references. If there is someone from a previous job, see if you can have a talk with them about what really happened and how you've changed. They may be able to say that you were able to function for the most part and now they recognize some things were outside your control.

Try working with a recruiter so you can get a feel for how your past is going to get questioned. If they feel they cannot place you because of the poor previous job history, you can decide if you want to have the same conversation with them about what happened and how you've changed.

The final option may be you need to take a part-time job outside of your area of expertise just to get back in the work world. This should help your confidence in the ability to keep a job while you look for a better one. Also, it can act as a trial period. You don't want to land a good job only to relapse. This will just compound your situation.

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Don't even think of trying to come back to work with your issues still unsettled. The last thing any of your prospective employers wants to hear is that your issues are still ongoing.They hire you because they need you not because they want to take care of you let alone because they love you and want to take care of you. The prospective employer who hires me because they want to take care of me ain't born yet - either that or they went out of business and disappeared without a trace.

If you can't tell with a straight face your prospective employers that your issues and therefore your work history are well behind you (*), you don't have a chance in hell and you are wasting everyone's time including your own. You are a cog in the machine and the cog has to fit in and be 100% functional.

Get yourself back in shape and on your feet first. Right now, it's the only only priority you have. Because all of your other priorities hang on your getting this priority taken care of.

(*) you can claim that they are well behind you if they are either resolved or still unresolved but manageable. At this point, your issues don't fit either category.

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  • Should I start a small business rather than trying to have a job? – user40376 Dec 21 '16 at 6:20
  • @anonymous Mental health above all is the thing you need to solve. If you can manage it do voluntary work or create a small business that might help keep you afloat. Be warned, running a small business is even more stressful then working as an employee, this may worsen your mental health. Please be careful. – Dandy Dec 21 '16 at 6:25
  • "Small business" is a phrase that covers a multitude of sins. Do you have anything specific and doable in mind given your condition or are you throwing random ideas? – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 21 '16 at 6:53
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    Having led trans-national teams in global corporates, and set up two small local companies, I can tell you starting up your own business is much harder work! – Rory Alsop Dec 21 '16 at 10:01
  • The OP hasn't suggested in any way that he wants to be "taken care of" by his employer. Sounds like a bit of projection is going on here. – teego1967 Dec 22 '16 at 3:31