Best career launch strategy for someone with Aspergers

I am simply overjoyed to have found your site. The resemblances in our paths seems uncanny, but you’re some years ahead and exactly where I want to be. I am a 21 year old with Aspergers, can’t keep a job to save my life, rarely change, shower or brush my teeth, and the only thing I’ve managed to make work for me is working in my parent’s bookstore.

Now I don’t get hours anymore and I am expecting a child, wondering how on earth to make it work. My partner and everyone around me says I would do best at creating my own job, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what that should be, or focus my energy on one thing long enough to take a project to fruition.

So my question is, when you were first figuring out how to get started at running your own projects instead of finding jobs to get fired from over and over, what was the most valuable advice you received or, alternately would in hindsight have hoped to know then?

Can I get hired for being good at listening?

I’m job searching, so I’m trying to put myself on paper. Something that occurs to me as one of my best skills is listening. I’m the kind of good listener that stranger tell their secrets to. People have brilliant ideas while talking to me. I’ve used it to get by in situations where I felt really lost and ignorant, like the summer I went to a hacking conference without knowing the slightest thing about computers.

I know this skill can be useful, because its how I’ve made most of my friends, its made people fall in love with me, and in school it got me great grades.  I just don’t know how to get a job with it. I don’t know what type of fields or positions it would be valued in. On a resume, it looks silly, and I worry it comes across as passive.

I have other skills too. I’m insightful and creative. I’m good at leading people and inspiring them (used to direct plays). In my heart I think listening is what makes me stand out, and strengthens my other skills.

P.S. I notice people mention their personality type in your letters, I’m definitely either INFP or ENFP.

How should artists use the Internet to promote themselves?

I am an artist that has been drawing since I was four, dabbled in oils for a while then took a ten year break from art all together. I just recently picked it back up about a month ago and with my husband’s blessing I have decided to pursue an art career part-time. There’s a lot of information that I have been reading and researching on the Internet but it can be overwhelming sometimes!

Any advice for beginning artists like me? I have a goal to build up my portfolio to twenty art pieces by the end of this year, and I am currently enrolled in an art business and marketing webinar course online (it’s a 2 month course). I’m reading books, reading tips online, practicing my painting, I have a website and social media pages for my art. Am I missing something? You can be honest with me. I know most people do not think it is realistic to pursue a career as an artist, even part-time.

How can I get a career I like while I’m on maternity leave?

I’m 27 and happily married to my husband (33) but my career is worth nothing but emotional torment. I work at a bank and my job is administrative and empty and horrible for my creative soul but it pays the bills. We are getting ready to start a family and need my job for the maternity leave. My husband makes decent money working for smaller companies and has full flexibility over his calendar, but we rely on my corporate role for the job security, perks and benefits. But I hate it and I am dying every day. Worse, my manager and I DO NOT get along.

Do you have any advice as to how to balance my everyday misery while I hang onto the job for what it has to offer? And do you have any advice for finding more meaningful work while I am on maternity leave so that I can establish something for myself, independent from the corporate world?

Is it okay to not job hunt and live off unemployment? (And, can I be a journalist?)

Should I continue collecting unemployment insurance as long as I can, or accept the next job offer I get?

Right now I’m happily collecting unemployment, and applying and interviewing for new jobs at a steady pace.

I am really enjoying not working for the first time in years. I can live comfortably off of my savings unemployment benefits until they expire. I volunteer for several organizations I love, so I am still very busy. And for the first time in my life, I might have the time, energy, and means to really travel, as long as I continue to adhere to my state’s unemployment requirements. I also have plans to start in-state graduate school in the fall for a professional degree program that I know will expand my skills and career options in my city, so I’m not totally without direction.

I am 26, have a 4-year college degree, no loans, work in journalism, and live in the Midwest, where jobs in my industry are harder to come by.

Is it career suicide to just remain unemployed between now and graduate school? Will the gap in my resume become too much of a problem after a couple more months pass? I am looking forward to getting back to work in what will hopefully be a less decrepit environment, and with every passing week I get a little bit more anxious about just finding a job already. I agree with you that it’s good to try new careers, but how often is one lucky enough to be on unemployment and without a care in the world? I also don’t think my story should raise any red flags with future employers, since essentially, “My contract with company X expired in February, and I elected not to stay because I wanted to travel and pursue personal projects. I felt like my goals and skills had outgrown that position and company, and now I’m really eager to apply myself to the next opportunity.”

Thank you so much for your time, Penelope.

My work history is a mess. How can I write a resume?

I really want to get a job as a creative director in advertising, because I’ve realized it’s my calling. The problem is my background is very diverse. I’ve had a lot of different jobs, like working in transportation and television and at a chiropractor’s office. It’s very unique experience, so I don’t know how to tie it all together when I write my resume.

I know my jobs have been all over the place but I don’t have a lot of gaps, though I did take some time off to care for a sick family member. I know if someone just hired me as a creative director, I’d do really well at the job. I was even doing that job in all but title as a freelancer at a friend’s agency, but they’re not hiring right now.

My wife thinks I have Aspergers

After reading through some of your blog entries I took the personality test. The results I received are ENTJ. I’m not sure this is right. After poring over the page of different personality types and I’m leaning towards ISTP.

Coincidentally, your Feb 4th blog post “How to balance your business and your family” really resonates with me. My wife just quit her job in September to start her own business, and I have been the sole breadwinner. I really understand the costs involved, as she has also developed a website using a third party developer, and I try to support her need to have a “low burn rate” when building the business. The description of your husband as an ISTP seemed more in line with my personality. Barring any further chameleonic tendencies…

Even more coincidentally, I stumbled upon your website after having what is probably the twelfth conversation with my wife on the topic of I probably have Asperger Syndrome. I don’t know, I may or may not have AS, I don’t really care, other than the fact that my wife is having trouble connecting with me.

We’ve been through couples therapy a couple of times, and she’s been trying to figure out why I’ve been so pessimistic and possibly depressed since leaving an awesome job designing airplanes in Atlanta to move to Idaho to raise our two kids. She has a support system here, but I have some adjustment anxiety (psychiatrist’s words). Having relocated to the Midwest from an urban area, you probably understand the adjustment.

So yeah, I’ll probably follow your blog from here on out, mostly because you seem to be able to articulate things my wife is going through in a way I can understand them. And I can use some of your techniques to better connect with her. And some more of your techniques to further my career. Thanks for doing what you do.

What’s the fastest path to a career change?

I’m in the midst of reinventing myself from an administrative to a post-MBA professional worker. I’m finding it to be a lot harder than I expected to make that transition. Can you give me some advice?

My husband wants me to be a SAHM. I don’t want to.

I have been following your posts about men, women, employment and SAHParent balances and power struggles. I am not sure if this is the right place to ask you, but here it goes.

My passion is acting. My husband is an uber expert in his field of IT. We (Gen Xers) met in college where I was a Theater major, and he a Psycho-biology major who wanted to be a dentist. I wanted to break into the industry, but couldn’t in Los Angeles. We now live in Atlanta with two children. Lately, acting opps are presenting themselves, and I started to do some film/tv work without disruption to my day job.

For the last 15 years I’ve been working full-time jobs I never really cared for, just going through the motion, because being a SAHM does not interest me, and my hubby threatens divorce if I were to quit my job.

I am trying to build a case to give this acting thing a real shot. I can make some income on a weekly basis doing just extra work while doing auditions in between that. He wants me to work steady, predictable jobs. I make less than 1/3 of what he makes (he is in high 100K range). Other than needing to spend less on groceries and vacations, we could survive for awhile on his salary.

Over the years, he seems frustrated that I never “advanced” my career, or appear happy with what I do. I have a physical condition that will lead eventually (probably in a decade) me filing for disability. So between that, and the short window of time to do this, I feel like he is “forcing” me to break apart our family and marriage. I don’t understand this dynamic – a spouse that makes good money and LOVES what he is doing, but equates his wife’s passion as a deal breaker, and not as a career.

How do I negotiate this? Thanks for listening.

PS He now travels a lot in his job, so I am more or less a single parent shuttling the kids to extra curricular activities and doctor’s appointments and helping with homework besides working 8-5pm weekly, Mon-Fri.

How do you decide how much to tell people on your blog?

I’m an INFJ and I’m taking your course Reach Your Goals by Blogging. The course is very helpful, but I have a question you did not answer:

How do you decide what’s off limits in terms of writing about others?  How can you be authentic if you feel like you can’t write about major events in your life, but those major events expose people whose privacy you feel you need to protect?