Disclosing your cancer in the job search process is a very personal decision. There is no right or wrong answer. The only time disclosure of a medical condition is necessary is if one is requesting a reasonable accommodation. Otherwise, the decision to tell is based on exploring and balancing a number of priorities including your personality and the type of work environment. When looking for a job, however, this decision becomes more challenging because you are largely unfamiliar with the nuances of that work environment. Therefore, writing about cancer on your resume to camouflage and avoid that dreaded “gap in resume” can be delicate.
Some points you may want to consider if you are struggling with whether or not to disclose your cancer on your resume:
- Speak to a career coach. Our career coaches at Cancer and Careers may be able to offer you valuable insight for your specific situation. See an example of how our coaches advise others on this topic: http://www.cancerandcareers.org/career-coach/topics/resume-building-and-writing
- Speak to a social worker or trusted family member or friend. Consider all aspects of how disclosing your cancer may help or hinder you in the job search process.
- Explore different resume types. There are many styles of resumes and one may be better suited for your needs. Check out our Job Search section for template ideas: http://www.cancerandcareers.org/women/charts_checklists/
- If you have made the decision to disclose your illness, consider sharing this information on the job interview process, rather than the resume. During an interview, you may be better able to gauge your interviewer, the direction of the interview and your comfort level.
- Prepare and practice an answer for the "gap in resume" question during an interview. Unfortunately, there is no blanket answer that fits everyone’s situation. If you have made the decision not to disclose your illness, create a statement that fits your comfort level and is truthful. Think outside the box; did you volunteer, take a class or perhaps consult during your time off?
Want additional assistance on this and all topics related to balancing cancer and work? Leave a comment below or contact one of our career coaches here.