Be the Boss Over Cancer

Hello-- This was touched on briefly in another Post on here, but not directly. I wondered if the experts on here felt that announcing that you are a cancer survivor in your cover letter is a positive or a negative when applying for a job at a cancer fundraising organization? I made a career switch to healthcare fundraising about 2.5 years ago after fundraising for the arts with the long-term plan of working at a cancer organization. I recently saw a job opening listed on the website of one of the organizations that supports my type of cancer. I am qualified for the job based on its requirements and my work experience. I am wondering if it gives me any advantage or disadvantage to say that I am a 5+ year survivor of the type of cancer for which they raise funds? Unfortunately I do not have any direct connections to that organization to whom I can pose this question! Thank you for your help and advice. -Suzanne


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  • Rebecca Nellis

    Rebecca Nellis on Feb 4, 2010

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Suzanne,

    We are alerting one of our coaches to your questions for her expert opinion about the interview process.

    A suggestion I have from the perspective of working in the cancer community is to do some research about what kind of organization it is. Are they grassroots and working closely with survivors? Can you google to find out if there are other survivors that are public about their cancer and on staff? I think just like in any industry it depends on the culture of the place whether it would have any impact, positive or negative. It also might be something you hold off on with your cover letter if you feel you have enough relevant experience to stand out from the pack regardless and then it could be something you discuss in an interview if it feels right.

    Let us know what you decide and/or if you have further questions after you read this and our coach responds.


    Rebecca Nellis

    Director of Programs

    Cancer and Careers

  • Rosalind Joffe

    Rosalind Joffe on Feb 5, 2010

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Suzanne,

    The question you're referring to was slightly different. In that case, the person was applying to a job in an organization which gave charitable donations to a cancer foundation.

    As always, you've got to weigh pros and cons. I rarely suggest disclosure so early in the process for many reasons. But as you've noted, it could help you stand out sufficiently to get an interview. You've lived with this for 5+ years, you've lived with the meds and you're managing it (be sure to include that with the disclosure). As Rebecca suggested, it could backfire and be a reason they don't interview you. You never know who is reading this and what they might bring to it.

    Bottom line, you might ask yourself these 2 quesions: How much do you want or need this job? If disclosure prevents you from getting an interview, would you want to work there?

    I'd be really curious to hear what you decide and how this goes.



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