It’s a topic that a number of career sites cover, because it’s relevant to so many: preparing for a successful re-entry into the work world after a hiatus. Cancer and Careers talks about it too, but from a slightly different angle — that is, when the “hiatus” is a cancer experience.
The fact is, whether you’ve taken time off to deal with medical issues (e.g., to undergo cancer treatment and/or manage related side effects) or for other personal reasons (e.g., to raise a family), the process for re-entering the workforce can look very similar. An article from The Muse titled “How Can I Re-enter the Workforce After a Long Break?” outlines four important steps to take. We’ve listed them below — and added additional information and resources that can be useful for cancer survivors, in particular.
Do your research. Researching potential fields of interest, employers and positions is a key part of any job search. You want to make sure that the companies and roles you target are likely to be a good fit. If you’re re-entering the workforce post-cancer, some important information you’ll want to know relates to the company’s policies and benefits. You’ll want to find out if they offer things you may need access to now or in the future. For example, what kind of health insurance do they offer? Do they provide flexible work options? What is their policy regarding medical leave?
Update your resume. Once you have a sense of the types of industries/jobs you’re going to pursue, you’ll want to make sure your resume is current and that it highlights any experience related to the positions you plan to apply for. As The Muse article points out, be sure to include “volunteer work, or classes you’ve taken” during your time off. If you have a gap on your resume — not uncommon for people who’ve undergone cancer treatment — you may want consider using what’s called a “functional/chronological resume.” This version is set up to list your skills at the top and your specific job experience farther down, so there is less emphasis on the timeline of your career.
Bring yourself up to date. As the article says, if you’ve been out of work, you may be “a bit rusty when it comes to the latest and greatest happenings in your field.” So try to remain current by reading up on what’s new and different in the industry, keeping in touch with former colleagues or taking classes to hone existing skills or learn some new ones.
Build your network. For some, this is easier said than done; but having a robust circle of contacts you can reach out to when job-hunting is critical. One way to broaden your network, according to The Muse, is to explore “websites like Meetup or Eventbrite to see what’s going on” in your community. If it’s been a while since you’ve done the meet-and-greet thing, you may want to brush up on your networking skills before attending a social event, so as to maximize any opportunities to connect with new people. You’ll also want to be sure to let family and friends know that you are actively looking for work, and “ask them to keep you in mind when they hear of opportunities.”
For additional information and resources, be sure to check out the following: