Be the Boss Over Cancer

I have survived 11 months post cancer treatment for breast cancer. I have come back to a small town to live. There is no work for someone with 4 degrees is social services, substance abuse, family services and community health education with one university degree. All the state jobs  that I apply for go to former employees or the younger people. I am told that I am overeducated or don't qualify. My vocational rehabilitation counselor has been out ill for eight months. Not much help there. I paid the last months rent and have a 85 year old mother to support. I lived off of my unemployment benefits and paid for my surgeries and cancer treatment. I alway score well and at the top of the interview lists. I have been a social worker, mental health clinician and substance abuse counselor. I am disabled but do no present it physically. I am sixty years old. I want to move from Coos Bay, Oregon to  Edmonds, WA that has more jobs in the Seattle area. Is there an answer? My vocational rehabilitation counselor told me today that there are not any jobs. It was not a good answer for someone deeply depressed and hanging on by her finger tips. Thanks. Cathy in Oregon


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  • Margot Larson

    Margot Larson on Jul 7, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:


    First, Congratulations on all of your achievements. There are obviously many and sometimes it’s hard to focus on what we have accomplished when we are in fear of the future.

    Perhaps it’s time to “re-invent” yourself. You have a lot of experience and talent to draw from. Ask yourself what do you really want to do? Design the ideal job for you at this stage of your career. Maybe you don’t have to use all your current degrees and knowledge. Let them be the asset to land the job, not necessarily the essential component of the job, i.e. instead of a Counselor position, look at Program Manager or Executive Director, etc…

    Don’t buy into the statement that there are no jobs. It implies you should not even try. If you had taken that approach with your cancer, where would you be today? Make HOPE your guide.

    As a career coach, I know that the job market is difficult out there. I do have clients that land. Some take a long time, others connect really quickly. One of the best strategies is Network.
    One of the growing industries is Healthcare. Have you investigated Cancer Hospitals as a potential employer where you might utilize your services? If government does not present opportunities right now, how about some non- profit agencies, private human service agencies and cancer organizations?

    While you are looking, volunteer using your talent which will help you build visibility and make contacts. Serve on a Board of Directors. Attend professional meetings and conferences where you can build your network. Don’t pass on part time, temporary or per diem work. They can all open doors for you.

    Check out some of the excellent strategies outlined on our website relative to your resume, and networking strategy. If you plan to move, then begin using your existing network immediately to connect to people in your new location. Set it your new network in advance of a move.

    Believe in the possibilities in order to recognize the opportunities.


  • Rosalind Joffe

    Rosalind Joffe on Jul 8, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hello, Cathy,

    I ditto all the terrific sugestions that Margot has made.  I'd add a few things to consider as you approach these forward shifts and changes in your life.  The notion of "reinventing" might be a hard one but another way you might look at this is what jobs are available for people with my skills and background?  I suggest to my clients that the best way to find out is through research.  Do you know people where you live who are doing jobs similar to what you've done?  Or even people who are doing different types of work but it seems interesting?  You might meet with a few, tell them what you're up to and ask the if they have any ideas of the kind of work you might do.  The key is you're not asking for a job but looking, researching, work opportunities. 

    I'd also suggest you do this in any area where considering a move. The  common wisdom is that jobs exist in more skilled areas and you have tremendous skills and experience.  A 'disability' shouldn't/won't hold you back but it's going to take strategic thinking and motivation.  You might look at my website, for more information and resources on this as well as my blog, http://workingwithchronicillness.  I wish you strength as you journey forward. 



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