Be the Boss Over Cancer

I need some advice how can I get a job & return to work after my un-employment is exhausted with still needing radiation? What do I say & not say to get a job & have a new potential employer want to hire me?


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  • Kathy Flora

    Kathy Flora on Mar 19, 2013

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi, Catherine,
    It’s tough enough to figure out the best way to position yourself In a job interview, without worrying about whether or not an employer will want to hire you after you’ve had cancer. I know, I’ve been there, and thousands of us have been there, too. I want to congratulate you, though, for your courage to have come this far in your recovery and for thinking so positively about your future.
    That’s what you should focus on… Your Future. As in any job interview, focus on what the employer needs, and how, when you are hired, you can make a difference for them. How you can come into the organization and make something easier, better, smoother, or just plain good for them. That will help you catch a glimpse of the future that is out there for you.
    Then, translate that glimpse into real live examples of how you have done that in the past in other jobs. Learn as much as you can about the employer, then be ready to fill in the gaps for them with your experience. Have three of four really good examples ready that address their biggest needs. Be ready to show them by your examples that you have solved similar problems in other circumstances, so that they will understand that you can do so for them, too.
    You will notice that nowhere in this description of how to get ready for your interview did I explain how you tell an employer about your cancer. That is because a first interview is definitely not the place to do that. First, you have to sell your skills and your ability to fit into their culture and do the job… something that you will be confident you can do after working through the exercise above. Then, after they have a good handle on your capabilities, and you seem to be clicking with the folks you meet, you may have to broach the subject of upcoming radiation. But, only if you think you will need special accommodations in order to complete your radiation. Why not play that one by ear. It could be that the search cycle takes long enough from first interview to offer then to start date that your radiation will be over by then. Considering that it usually takes at least 8 weeks from when a job is posted to when it is filled, that is a very real possibility.
    So, take this one step at a time, over time. Prepare your great resume, learn all you can about potential employers, compare your skills to their needs, figure out your examples of how you have made a difference for past employers, and practice your answers to potential interview questions. Then, go for it. You may be surprised, the issue of your illness may never even come up. And if it does, be ready with a short, simple response. Something like this works well, “Yes, I took some time to heal from an illness, but I am well on the road to recovery and eager to get back to using my skills in a job such as this.”
    Hope this helps, Catherine. Let us know how things go for you along the way. We’re here for you!
    Kathy Flora, Career Coach

  • Catherine M.

    Catherine M. on Mar 21, 2013

    Thank you Kathy for that great advice. I will do just what you said.

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