I’ve worked with many clients who don’t fit into the 9-5 world for different reasons: health issues, childcare, being an artist and wanting to create, or being a portfolio career individual like myself who likes to do a variety of things to earn a living. It’s an added career challenge to create what works for your unique situation and can take more time, but it’s worth it. One of my clients had been having vertigo for years.

Medication helped but didn’t completely solve the issue. This situation made her depressed so she went on anti-depressant medication. Although previously working full time as a teacher hadn’t been an issue, it was now. This was true for another client who had been a full-time social worker but had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We worked on revising their resumes by creating a powerful profile section and using strong active verbs. We also made any lapses in employment less predominant.

As we practiced for interviews by anticipating questions and preparing answers, I helped clients reframe their employment stories by always using positive language and projecting a can-do attitude. There was no need for either client to reveal medical issues as each was capable of fulfilling the roles of a part-time position.

Another client had been working in marketing full time at a corporation but after having two children two years apart, asked for some flexible time working from home. She was able to work from home three out of five days. After a year of trying to make that fit and realizing she was being pulled in too many directions, she asked for a part-time position but was declined. She continued working full-time while she worked on a home-based business plan to prepare healthy meals for working parents. Cooking had always been an avocation, so she would capitalize on those skills, and go for further training by learning how to cook vegetarian and specialized diet-based meals.

Each of us has a unique path to create. The current employment scene calls for individuals to be creative and entrepreneurial and understand how to use technology to their benefit. More and more companies are hiring consultants or part-time workers often in positions with no benefits. Finding affordable health care becomes a challenge. Before stepping off the 9-5 plan, whenever possible, have a plan. But, if you don’t fit into the 9-5 world or suddenly lose your job or need to deal with a health issue, you’ll need to hang onto your surfboard and ride that wave as best you can. Find support with friends, other job-seekers, a career coach, or visit a Career One-Stop. Remember that you’re not alone  and re-evaluate the important things in life. Focus on your strengths, be creative, and brainstorm with people you trust.