Multiple sclerosis can impact every part of your life – including work. It can be challenging to look for work or manage in the workplace when you’re juggling symptoms like fatigue, pain, and vision problems.
If you’re living with MS and want to find work, there are jobs out there for you. With the right support, many people with MS thrive in the workplace and find solutions to better manage their symptoms.
It’s natural to feel discouraged sometimes if you’re having trouble finding a job. Check out the tips below for finding work while living with MS – and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
1. Establish a routine
Setting up a daily routine when you’re looking for a job is good advice for all job seekers. A routine can help you better stay on track working towards your goals. It can also help you avoid working too hard on the job hunt and burning out.
For people living with MS, having a daily routine may also help them better manage their symptoms and their health. Eating well, exercising regularly, and practicing good sleep hygiene can help make you feel more confident and energized about the job search.
Don’t forget to make time to rest in your routine. Figure out when you work best, and when you experience dips in energy so that you can organize your day accordingly.
If you’re struggling with ongoing depression or anxiety symptoms, make sure you seek help. Searching for work can be physically and emotionally draining and looking after your mental health is a top priority.
2. Consider your options
It’s important to consider all your options when looking for work so that you can find a job that’s a good fit for you. If working in the same capacity isn’t ideal for you anymore, consider the following options:
If maintaining full-time hours is too demanding, you may be able to work in a part-time capacity that better suits your needs.
Transferring your skills to a new role
If the demands of your current job tasks are too much, you might be able to transfer your knowledge and experience to a different role within the same company or industry. For example, if you previously worked as a nurse, you could consider transitioning to a training role.
Work from home
Working from home is becoming more common these days and could help you better manage fluctuations in symptoms. Your employer may allow you to work some days from home regularly, or when you’re experiencing symptom flare-ups.
Starting a new career
Some people see their MS diagnosis as an opportunity to reconsider their employment goals and follow a new career path. Keep in mind, you may need to retrain for some roles.
Speak with an employment consultant
If you’re not sure what types of jobs would be a good fit for you, it may help to speak with a professional employment consultant. They can help you think through the different options available and discover opportunities you may not have considered before.
3. Decide how much to disclose
When applying for jobs or attending job interviews, it can be tricky to know if and how much you should disclose about your MS.
In Australia, you don’t have to tell your employer unless your MS is going to affect your performance of the essential job tasks.
Disclosing about your MS in a job application or interview may help your employer understand how they can help you from the beginning.
Deciding if, how, and when to disclose can be a big decision. You may want to speak with a professional who can help you think through the different possibilities and potential outcomes.
4. Research possible workplace adjustments
Before you apply for a job, take time to think about possible workplace adjustments that may help you perform better in the workplace.
These could be things like:
- Special equipment – such as an ergonomic keyboard, pen grips, forearm support for using the computer or voice recognition software.
- Apps – for example, task management apps to help with organization and memory, and mindfulness apps to help with stress management.
- Redesigning the office layout – such as improving the accessibility for a wheelchair, blocking direct sunlight from windows, or placing the workstation closer to the bathroom facilities.
- Flexible work schedule – such as an early starting time if you work better in the morning.
- Days off for medical appointments.
Australian employers are legally required to provide reasonable adjustments that help their employees perform their job well and safely.
If you’re currently working and know you need changes but aren’t sure what will help, you can request a professional workplace assessment to help discover solutions that are right for you.
5. Don’t give up – Seek help
Searching for work can take a long time and may feel disheartening sometimes. It’s important to take care of yourself along the way and reach out for help if you need it.
If you’re living with multiple sclerosis and looking for work, you could be eligible for Disability Employment Services, a government-funded program that helps find jobs for people with an injury, illness, or disability.
A Disability Employment Services provider can help you with everything from career planning to finding suitable job opportunities, writing your resume, and preparing for interviews.
They can also help you access things like mental health support, further training, and workplace accommodations to help you succeed in your new job.