Jobs for ADD people?

earthwalker7's picture
Rank: Almost Human | 7,208

I genuinely do have ADD, and it affect my work - and therefore my ability to hold down a job.

The ADD is not hyperbloe - I had extra testing time in university and grad school, I've had meds prescribed but the sideffects are too great.
I genuinely struggle to keep present and concentrate.

When I was in uni, I studied architecture, because something about drawing and getting lost in design helped me through.
But I gave up the profession (it's deeply under-paying and under-employing) and went into finance.

And I think with the ubiquity of Internet my ability to concentrate has diminished greatly.
I Youtube in the background, I check WSO too often, and I whatsapp everyone.

I've had 10 jobs since graduating b-school 15 years ago.
And each one was boring and uninspiring.

What can I do either to 1) get my brain rehabilitated, or 2) figure out a job that suits ADD people.

Comments (28)

Aug 4, 2019

Sales. you will be traveling so much you won't even have time to notice your ADD.


Aug 4, 2019

1) Microdosing
2) Entrepreneurship

ADD doesn't mean you can't focus. Just means you can only focus on stuff that interests you and that you care about.


Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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Aug 5, 2019

you can only focus on stuff that interests you and that you care about.

That applies to pretty much everyone.

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Aug 6, 2019

That's not exactly my experience.
My ability to focus - even on relatively interesting subjects - is fairly minimal in nearly all cases.

Aug 6, 2019

How'd you end up being a PE MD then? Don't you have to research companies and industries pretty thoroughly?


Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

Aug 4, 2019

2nd Entrepreneurship.

I've been blessed that both of my job post college have had a long learning curve + a level of autonomy to do what I find interesting + a lot of room for growth. Another big thing for me is being allowed to leave the office / WFH when I don't feel like I need to be in the office.

If I was bored or felt confined for an elongated period of time, I'd leave immediately and start my own business.

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Aug 6, 2019

If you can stomach entrepreneurship then it's a great route for ADD people. I've got it myself and have always had a hard time with the monotony of cube life.

Starting a biz is great for ADD - You get to...
1. Choose the industry that gets you excited
2. Work on every aspect (literally every) of business - business planning, legal infrastructure, technology development/roadmapping, marketing, sales, customer service, fundraising, hiring, firing, strategy, the list goes on
3. Your (early) days will be filled with all of the above, making the need to jump from task-to-task a normalcy.

When you're tired of working on the 8th draft of your investor pitch deck you can shift gears to other value-add tasks. The only problem I have is that there's ALWAYS something that needs to be done, making it very hard to sleep and stressful at times.

"Out the garage is how you end up in charge
It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars, it's how you
Start off a curb servin', end up a boss"

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Aug 6, 2019

I think this is very wise advice.

Aug 15, 2019


Aug 6, 2019

almost any desk job will be hard for a person with ADD (i have ADD myself)

outdoor jobs where you are doing physical work are much better suited.
summer camp counselor (or owning and running a camp)
any kind of physical trade (mechanic, electrician, plumber, carpenter, housing construction, etc..)

i'm a futures prop trader, and with ADD....its very hard...on days where i don't naturally focus (about 50% of them) either i need to take my adderall...or i don't focus and miss my trade setups and make stupid mistakes.

however, when i'm away from my desk and doing literally any kind of physical work, i'm much more engaged. unfortunately, there is a cap on how much $$ you can earn where your physical body is the earning asset. i suppose you could run a business around that type of work after you become an expert to increase your earning...but thats a long road..but so is life.

just google're welcome

Aug 6, 2019

This is very, very true.
My favorite 2 jobs were 1) volunteer at an orphanage where I was running after little kids all day, and busing them into school, 2) working as a banker at a casino, at the blackjack table, where there was a high speed of life.
And you're totally right about physical work.
I enjoyed digging in the fields, moving things, working construction.
I even enjoy washing dishes.

But cube life was awful.

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Aug 6, 2019

as a prop my own money...when i have a position on...its easier to stay focused...but when i don't have a position...and on days where my ADD kicks into high gear...i'm too easily distracted...and its very hard to focus

just google're welcome

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Aug 6, 2019

I got diagnosed in my late 20's, and the condition def. took a toll on me through college and first jobs.

Here are some things I've learned

1) You need to try out medications until you find something that works, along with therapy if you can - not everyone responds to either parts, but try both until you find something that works

2) People in general should try to work with something that interests them, but especially so if you have ADD. I don't know about you, but if I'm passionate about something, I can literally stay up for days doing that one thing. It's both a blessing and curse that comes with ADD; But you're seriously hard pressed finding harder and more focused workers than people with ADD working on something they're extremely passionate about. But beware; interests come and go, and lots of people with ADD struggle to find a "true" passion before moving onto something else, and sadly you can't force yourself to be interested in something.

My experience is that there's really no definite answers to what fits someone with ADD - so much depends on interest. Things that are boring can get completely ignored, while things that are exciting can become all-consuming.

I've worked physical jobs that sucked a$$, but other co-workers with ADHD/ADD loved and excelled at those. On the flip-side, I excel at detailed / analytical work, and friends with the condition can't even spend 10 seconds looking at spreadsheets before zoning out.

As I wrote, the hyperfocus that comes with ADD can be both a blessing and curse.

On a final note, try to get good routines nailed down. For me, just winging things has never worked out; my unmedicated mind is absolute chaos, and there's no way in hell I can manage a well-balanced life by just improvising my days - I'd just end up doing one thing, and completely ignoring everything else around me. And then things start heaping up.

Aug 7, 2019

Thanks guys for the good advice.

I remember when I was starting b-school the doc put me on Abilify. I hunkered down and started working, and it was a big help in my work. But I believe I had pretty crazy side effects, so had to stop.

I could start trying to get meds again I suppose.

Some kind folks have suggested microdosing.
I really don't know much about that. Keen to learn more. At this point, will try anything.

Aug 10, 2019

Spoke w/ my brother.

He's got ADD and he's managed to cope.

He's been uber successful - built a very big tech company which employs hundreds of people and has hundreds of millions in revenue.

Maybe my ADD is similar to his, and he's just found a better way to copy.

He says takes Ritalin RX and has worked with a coach to find coping strategies.

He also founded his own company, instead of working in the system like I do.

I can't stay focused on a bunch of Excels and detail work, and he said he can't either.

That's why he started a company so he can focus on the stuff he is good at - like pitching, leading, delegating - all stuff I can do too.

Perhaps I can learn from his example.

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Aug 10, 2019

so does anyone have any good coping strategies?

i've a pair of construction-type over-the-ear earmuffs that block out most sound which helps me get sound isolation.

Any other tips / tricks?

I've tried working on/off in 10 minute bursts...

Most Helpful
Aug 14, 2019

Over-the-ear construction earmuffs! You're killing me dude hahah!

It sounds like you do not find general interest in your work. If you just need to slog through the days, get a script for Ritalin. Take solace in the fact that methylphenidate has been around for a long time compared to other ADD medications on the market. Exercise helps burn off excess energy and works well to keep me at even keel.

I wrote about it on your last thread but I would not be able to function in the corporate world if I did not have the autonomy I have. I would be a miserable wreck of an individual if I had to sit in an assigned seat 9-5, grinding through the monotony. Pretending to be busy for the sake of optics is complete malarkey that makes me resentful and depressed. I have to be able to leave the office when I want to. I am constantly challenging myself technically and politically with multiple stretch goals at any given time. If I did not manufacture this competitive environment for myself, I would be disengaged and therefore, very unhappy.

High school felt like a jail sentence to me because you're subjugated to a one-size-fits-all curriculum carried out at a linear rate whereyou cannot leave without being a truant. If work ever starts to feel like that, it's time to leave.

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Aug 11, 2019

I've tried working while listening to music (esp instrumental).
And while that works a bit, it also detracts from ability to do precise work.

Any ideas how to cope?

Aug 15, 2019

I can second the instrumental strategy. Anything with words completely throws me off. I listen to jazz/blues instrumentals - they're relaxing, slow paced, and allow my mind to move with the tune of the music vs at its own erratic pace.

If you're in a position where you have to do monotonous tasks/cube all day then I definitely recommend getting back on medication. As you mentioned above, micro dosing your add scripts throughout the day works well. I find it better than taking the whole thing up front. You still get increase in focus without feeling like you're cracked out.

"Out the garage is how you end up in charge
It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars, it's how you
Start off a curb servin', end up a boss"

Aug 13, 2019

Are you seriously an MD at a PE firm? I am curious to know what parts your ADD affects the most.

Don't quit!
Aug 14, 2019

No I'm not MD!
I'm a Sr. Investment Director.
(aka a principal in other firms
Never did I say I was an MD.

And yes, seriously, as verified by WSO.

Where I seem to be better is at fundraising, and in evaluating deals, and to a lesser extent, sourcing.
Where I am less skilled is sitting for too long and staring at monitors building Excels.
Thankfully there's less and less of that as one climbs up the monkey tree.

Aug 14, 2019

How's your attention to detail? Did you start off in sales the whole time?

Don't quit!
Aug 15, 2019

If you have ADD you may be qualified for an executive position.

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Aug 15, 2019


Aug 16, 2019
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