“What if my job references know I have cancer?” is a common question we get at Cancer and Careers. Our Chief Mission Officer, Rebecca Nellis, shares some of CAC’s ideas for what to do in this situation, on our Ask a Career Coach discussion board. Here is what we recommend:
If your references know you have cancer, we suggest you ask them not to discuss your health as part of their assessment of your skills and qualities. Ideally, everything related to your job search (e.g., your resume, cover letters, interviews, references) should focus on you as the savvy and qualified candidate you are. These elements are meant to help paint the picture of you as a valuable, experienced employee — not as a cancer patient or survivor.
It is also a good idea to send your references some thoughts on what you’d like them to talk about when they’re contacted by a hiring manager, given what you know about the position. For example, if the job you’ve applied for requires a lot of public speaking, you might ask your references to mention that you’ve delivered multiple speeches on X, Y and Z at company-wide meetings.
Have questions for one of Cancer and Careers’ professional career coaches? Share them on our Ask a Career Coach board. For more information on job-hunting, visit our Looking for Work section or order or download our free Job Search Toolkit by clicking here.