Be the Boss Over Cancer

I recently heard about a job opportunity at a large corporation that is heavily invested in a breast cancer charity. Having recently finished treatment, I am beginning an aggressive job search. This opportunity is very appealing to me because I'd be able to do what I'm good at, plus work at a company that I feel personally connected to. Can I talk about this in an interview, and if so, is there a good way to bring it up?

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  • Rosalind Joffe

    Rosalind Joffe on Jan 28, 2010

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Deborah

    Congratulations on finishing treatment and starting your job search. Since there are no "rules, no one-size-fits-all response, you need to figure out what's in your best interest regarding disclosure. I suggest that you start with this question: What do I gain or lose from discussing this? You might be surprised by your responses but you will feel clearer about your decision.

    Charitable giving doesn't mean that the organization has policies that support employees living with chronic illness. (Or in your case, perhaps the effects from the medication of the illness.) Does that matter to you? If so, that's certainly worth talking about.

    Also, there are often many interviews for a job and one discusses different things with different people. If you decide to talk about this in the interview stage, think about 3 things: who, when and what.

    Who: Is the first thing you want someone to know about you? If not,wait until you're talking with those whom you would be working directly with or for. That way you can communicate who you are, how healthy you are now and what skills you bring rather than. If you bring it up too early, it could be communicated to others before they meet you and create the wrong impression.

    When: As I said above, if you don't want this to be your "branding", then wait until you've established who you are, your skills, personality and talents. I often suggest that it's good idea to wait until negotiating the job but there are always exceptions.

    What: This is a good time to remember the KISS rule. Keep it simple. People don't want a lot of details but they do want to know that you're fine now. If asked about medication and how that affects you, you want to assure them that you've learned know how to manage this. You might mention that you're bringing it up so there are no surprises for them, reinforcing that you're trustworthy and a team player. No one wants to hear a sob story but this can be a really effective way to show that you're capable in difficult times and a positive spirit.

    Most of all, keep up your positive attitude and the job search. I wish you the best -- in finding a terrific match and in maintaining your health!



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