Be the Boss Over Cancer

Dear Career Coach: I am writing as a new breast cancer survivor. Now that I have completed my final radiation treatment, I have given serious consideration to what this diagnosis has meant to me and how it has changed my life. I now know that I am committed to finding a position within an organization that is dedicated to supporting cancer causes. I am an outgoing, capable individual whose life experiences and professional accomplishments would provide a unique set of skills for many organizations. After receiving my M.B.A., I enjoyed a successful career in finance at The Pillsbury Company. I eventually resigned to raise my children and am currently very interested in re-entering the work force. I am seeking a challenging part time, preferably home-based, position where I can make a significant contribution to the fight against cancer and help support others who are in all stages of diagnosis and recovery. I have emailed my resume, with a cover letter, to many cancer organizations with little or no response. Although there seem to be many volunteer opportunities, my family's financial situation requires that I obtain a paid position. I was hoping to get advice from you regarding how I should go about contacting the appropriate individuals and how I should present myself. Being a cancer survivor is a great achievement. Now it is time for me to look forward to the rest of my life. I am going to do my best to find meaningful work within a cancer organization and would welcome any advice you may have to help me reach that goal. Thank you, Catherine

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  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Jan 14, 2009

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Catherine,

    Kathy's advice is really terrific, all which I agree with wholeheartedly. I second her congratulations for fighting and surviving breast cancer!

    If working for a cancer advocacy organization is what you want, I would not give up. At the same time, in today's work world, no one has the luxury of being too specific in their search and as financial solvency is your number one goal, broadening your search seems a necessity.

    However, let's revisit your goal of working for a cancer advocacy group. Are you on LinkedIn and Plaxo Pulse? These are two great resources for reaching out to a volume of people to ask who they may know at one of the organizations you have targeted. have you networked with other cancer survivors to see what contacts they may have? And why not send a blanket networking e-mail to everyone you know describing your passion for working for a cancer advocacy group and asking for contacts in their network?

    In addition to the great resources that Kathy has provided, there is a brand new book out called: Will Work From Home by Tory Johnson and Robyn Freedman Spizman. I higly recommend it!

    Finally, while it is obvious that cancer is your focus, why not consider other causes that are meaningful to you as well?

    Please write again if you would like clarification or additional ideas.

    Take care,

    Julie

  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Sep 27, 2010

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Catherine,

    Congratulations on your recovery! It is common for cancer survivors to want to find work that is more meaningful to them and offers more flexibility.

    Unfortunately simply mailing your resume and a cover letter blindly to an organization is unlikely to reap results. Finding a job in this market requires ingenuity and networking through people. I am sure you have a list of organizations that you would like to work for (called a target list in job search). I would take this list and send it to anyone you know to ask if they know anyone at any of the organizations. I would also join LinkedIn groups and ask the same question there as well as search for people who may work at these companies and are part of your connections on LinkedIn.

    I would not just limit yourself to cancer organizations but find for profit companies and other non profits whose causes interest you and network into those companies. I am sure that you know that the job boards are great for research but not as effective for getting interviews. Once again, you will very likely get interviews through people who know you and can make an introduction.

    I would also have a professional take a look at your resume and cover letter to ascertain if you are presenting yourself in the best possible light.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

    Take care,

    Julie

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