Be the Boss Over Cancer

Hello,

I am a nearly 25 year old college educated individual who after finally completing treatment for Stage III Hodgkin's Lymphoma cannot get an interview to save my life. It doesn't seem to matter if it is in my field or not, I am striking out left and right. I've been told it does not seem to be my resume, I went to a temp agency and a workshop and both people there said it was fine. 

When I do get brought in for an interview, I know they wonder what happened to me. I have a huge port scar on my chest due to some complications following its insertion, and what I affectionately call my Hazel Grace hair. Every interview I have had they allude to it. I tried covering it up, but my port tube goes into my neck and is very visible unless I were to wear a turtle neck, which is not really a desired attire in the heat of an LA summer.

I am amply qualified to work in my field and I don't struggle finding open positions. I just can't seem to get to that next step. I  have done dozens practice interviews, workshops and the like but none of it seems to be helping. I realized that the entertainment industry is a cut throat one, but based on what other colleagues of mine who have the same lack of connections and same level of experience, I seem to be the only one with this issue. 

What would anyone recommend I do?

Thanks for your time!

Katelyn

2 Comments

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  • Margot Larson

    Margot Larson on Jul 18, 2014

    Career Coach Comment:

    Katelyn,

    Let's see whether we can shed some light on the topic of why you are not getting called for interview. 

    You say your resume is fine.  But is it "good" or "outstanding".  There are lot of candidates out there for every available position. You need to shine, to stand out, to be among the best.  Since you mention the entertainment industry, one might assume that you have to demonstrate your creativity, even at the resume stage.  What is your profession in that industry?  That would be helpful for us to guide you.

    You mention concerns about your scar and the port tube to your neck - could that be camouflaged with a light weight scarf (very much in vogue right now even in the summer) or a shirt with a high collar or a collar that you can raise in the back?  I have to wear a shirt with a high collar (even over a t-shirt) because my treatment has made me overly sensitive to SUN and UV exposure. You might be able to do the same, perhaps even with an attractive jacket to cover it.  Interviews are usually in air conditioning rooms, so the summer heat should not be a problem.

    Now as to your notgetting an interview, there is clearly a reason that has to be explored further if you say that your friends and colleagues are not facing that problem?  It could be your resume;  it could be your cover letter or you verbal communication tone, your demeanor or your image. Unfortunately, even if you do interact with Human Resource Staff or a Hiring Manager, they really can't give you candid feedback without putting themselves and their company at risk. You really do need to find someone in the industry or a Human Resource professional who agrees to conduct a mock interview and commits in advance to giving you very candid and blunt feedback so you can address the situation. Maybe a friend is too close to do so effectively. And a competitor to a similar job would be a poor choice.You could benefit from feedback but you need to honestly look within you as to what you may have to change. Ask yourself whether you want the feedback and can deal with it?  You've already been through a lot.

    You may want to a look at some of the resource information on our site about Mock interviewing, Interview Questions to practice, etc..

    If you are running into barriers for the specific job you want and can't move forward, then let's look at what other type of job there may be in the industry that you might enjoy and perhaps it can become a stepping stone for the ideal job.  Networking your way on the inside can be a very good approach.  

    You also mention a temporary agency.  If they think your resume is fine, ask them if they would be willing to give you candid feedback as to what your obstacle is to getting an interview or what they would recommend?   Lastly, while you are looking, consider volunteering for a related position.  Your performance might speak well for you and you might just meet someone who can be the connector to the job you want.

    Another thought:  Do you really know what your reputation is?  Have someone call  your previous employers to ask for a reference, pretending to be an interested employer, so you can find out what your reputation is.  That can be helpful in determining how to refine your approach to your job and your job search.

    I hope that some of this is helpful.  Once you give us more details about you profession, we can probably provide you with more specific suggestions.

    Margot

  • Rachel Becker, LMSW

    Rachel Becker, LMSW on Jul 21, 2014

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Katelyn, 

    Thanks for your post. I'd like to add some thoughts to Margot's excellent advice above. 

    I'm sure the frustrations that you've shared here resonate with a number of survivors who have or are currently seeking out work after treatment. That said, your willingness to keep looking for answers suggests your frustrations are balanced by an overall positive attitude. Persistence is a good friend in any job search, so keep on swimming!

    Margot mentions networking as an effective approach which is a great suggestion. You may want to do some Googling to see if there are any trade organizations in your area that you might tap into. Meetup.com is also another great resource for finding networking events within your industry which can lead to valuable connections. Additionally, LinkedIn can be a very robust resource for meeting people within your industry. I encourage you to join professional groups and participate actively. You never know where those conversations might lead. For more tips, take a look at Cancer and Careers' Guide to LinkedIn:  http://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work/guide-to-linkedin

    Margot also suggests learning more about your reputation by having someone call your references. It's great advice, and I'd like to expand on it by suggesting that you also look into what your online reputation is. According to CareerBuilder, about 37% of companies use social media to research their candidates and, unfortunately, discovering a candidate is a cancer survivor sometimes deters hiring managers from following up an application with an interview. You can learn more about managing your online reputation by following this link: http://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work/online-image. There are also companies you can hire to help manage your online reputation (although they tend to be on the pricey side). You can learn more about those companies - as well as read CAC's tips to Do-It-Yourself here: http://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work/reputation-management. 

    Good luck, Katelyn. And please reach out again if you have any questions, or thoughts about how we might be able to help!

    Warmly,

    Rachel

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