I made pretty much all the mistakes that anybody can make as far as my career was concerned. That being the case you might think that I can’t possibly give sound advice on how to succeed in your career since I have not been successful myself. But I know what mistakes I made and I think you can definitely learn from them.
The following key points relate to all aspirants, whether they are suffering from a mental ailment or not. Later I talk about challenges faces by people with depression.
- Be competent – Although I qualified as a Chartered Accountant because of some mental handicaps I was unable to apply my mind and was only fit to do the work of a clerk. This point is self-explanatory and nothing more needs to be added.
- Have a pleasing personality – Again this point is self-explanatory. In case you do not make friends easily take care to be unobtrusive and polite. It does not pay to offend people (whether powerful or not) and get the reputation of a troublemaker.
- Have a sound work ethic – Be prepared to work hard. I had a good work ethic when I was young but now as I have grown older, I have become lazy. This is one of the main reasons why I am not looking for a well-paid job even if I could find one (which is doubtful).
- Learn to interpret the hints and read between the lines – Again because of my handicaps this was something that I was unable to do. There is a lot of politics in the workplace and in order to survive that you need to know what is happening around you. For doing this interpreting hints is essential. You also need to gain the cooperation of you colleagues and get your point across tactfully.
- Marry and start a family as soon as you are sure of your prospects – In senior positions trust and reliability matter as much as competence. If you have a family and responsibilities your employers know (quite bluntly speaking) that they have you by your balls and that you have sound reasons to seek advancement in your career. They will know that you will be motivated to do well and will not create trouble for them.
- Be aware of the grapevine and the reputation you have – Just as job seekers discuss amongst themselves which jobs and employers are good an which are not so also your reputation – based on your past track record – will be known to your prospective employers. I think that you can assume that your interviewers know pretty much everything that they need to know about you even before they call you for your interview.
- Gain the trust of your employers – Competence, reliability and discretion are the keys. About discretion I can say that you should not disclose confidential and sensitive information which you have been entrusted with which can be used against your employers. In case of fields like Accountancy you will need to gain the trust of your employers before they will be ready to divulge sensitive information that you need to do your job. This is also true about senior management posts. Enough said.
- Be aware that your privacy may be invaded – Employers need to find out about you before they will trust you with sensitive information or important projects. Hence it is possible that you may be put under electronic surveillance. I am speaking from experience as I am 100% sure that I was put under surveillance myself.
- Keep your self-respect – If you are not performing well in your job you may find that you are not treated with respect by your colleagues even if your boss has not said anything yet. Learn to interpret the hints and if you get the impression that your services are not valued, have a frank conversation with your superiors and if necessary, resign. You will be able to get another job making use of such talents as you have.
Above I have described the requirements and challenges of all job aspirants. In addition, I was suffering from schizophrenia and the following are the lessons I learnt during my career:
As I mentioned above, you need to gain the trust of your employers and competence, reliability and discretion are the keys to that. This applied even more to my profession (Accounting) which involves dealing with sensitive information.
I tried to withhold the fact that I was suffering from a mental ailment when I applied for jobs. I thought that my disclosing the same would work against me because of the social stigma related to depression. But that was a mistake which ruined pretty much whatever chances I had.
The fact that I was suffering from a mental ailment was already known to employers and in my profession. My telling lies about the same caused my interviewers to regard me not only as a sufferer of depression but also as an untrustworthy person and a liar.
I think you can assume that it is impossible to hide the fact that you are suffering from a mental ailment for any length of time. Firstly (in my case especially), your body language will give you away. Next, you may have behaved in eccentric ways earlier in your life – be it in your previous jobs or socially or with your family. People are not fools – they notice things and they talk. The grapevine is fast. Lastly, you may have been under electronic surveillance and video recordings of your (perhaps) eccentric behaviour may have been circulated amongst employers.
All this has been my experience.
As I said earlier and going by my experience it is safe to assume that your interviewers know pretty much everything that they need to know about you even before they call you for your interview. Employers have much to lose if they appoint a wrong or malicious person to a sensitive post in their organisation. As such they will do whatever they think is necessary in order to find out what they want to know about you.
In sum I would advice you not to try to hide the fact that you are suffering from a mental ailment. Get a letter or certificate from your psychiatrist recommending you for a job. If necessary – change your profession. The fact that I was regarded as an untrustworthy liar was enough to seal my fate as far as a career in Accounting was concerned. But it would not have made much of a difference had I been in Sales for example. In Sales you are measured by the orders you obtain. As long as you get the orders it does not matter what your inadequacies may be.
Hope this helps someone. Please explore this blog for more articles on Politics, Spirituality and Self Help. If you liked this article then please share it on Facebook and Twitter and feel free to post your comments or contact me. Link to contact is below.