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'Chronic job hopper' tells his story

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David Wilkowske is starting his third year in his current job. That likely doesn’t seem like a major milestone for most people, but for Wilkowske, it’s a minor miracle.

The Farmington resident estimates he has had 75 jobs in the course of his life. He’s been a horticulturalist and a programmer, worked for IBM and True Value Hardware. He’s driven trucks all over the country.

He calls himself a chronic job hopper, and for much of his life he had no idea why he had so much trouble staying employed. Why he would get fired, or get bored and move on.

Then, in 2004, he went to a free clinic at an Alabama church looking for an answer. The diagnosis he got was attention deficit disorder. He later confirmed it at a professional clinic.

Suddenly, things made more sense.

“I have a very low boredom threshold,” Wilkowske said. “I would start thinking about looking for another job.”

In 2005, while he still lived in Alabama, Wilkowske started putting his experiences into a book. Called The Chronic Job Hopper, it chronicles his lifetime of experiences dealing with an ever-changing work life.

“I’ve been in so many job situations where you show up for work and you don’t know if you’re going to be there the next day or the next week,” he said. “I’ve had some management jobs where I’ve felt I was in over my head, and it didn’t take long for me to lose that job.”

His ADD continuously pushed Wilkowske into new jobs, and into new cities. He would react impulsively, he said, and pack up at the slightest provocation to move somewhere new — from Connecticut to Illinois to Indiana to Alabama to Minnesota, where he grew up.

Wilkowske developed many coping mechanisms over the years. He got very good at cold-calling business owners when he was looking for a job. He’d bypass human resources departments whenever he could, because his crowded job history was usually a red flag.

Wilkowske has never sought treatment for his ADD, but once he had a diagnosis he was able to do some research and figure out a way to work with it.

The book he wrote is full of the methods he developed over the years.

Keeping focused long enough to write it wasn’t always easy. Wilkowske hired a ghost writer to help him tidy up his words.

“There’s things that I think a reader would probably identify with,” he said. “Other people that have ADHD or ADD have found that they’re experiencing some of the same things. I’ve had people respond on my website that they’ve gone through the same thing.”

Wilkowske has appeared on radio stations across the country to promote his book, but at least financially he said it hasn’t been a success.

Things have settled down lately for Wilkowske. His current job keeps him busy, and keeps him interested. Three years in, he can see himself doing for the rest of his career.

“I think I finally found the right company to work for,” he said. “I feel like I finally quit hopping. You could say the chronic job hopper has finally retired.”

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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