I’m pleased to share an important guest post from Kairol Rosenthal, the author of Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide To Cancer in Your 20s and 30s. Kairol was diagnosed with cancer at age 27. Today she is a healthcare blogger and patient advocate working with national cancer organizations including Gilda’s Club, Planet Cancer, and I’m Too Young For This. Visit her blog here.
From the Big Apple to the Bible Belt, I interviewed dozens of young adult cancer patients for my new book, Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide To Cancer in Your 20s and 30s. I heard repeatedly that the most challenging time for young adults facing this disease was post-treatment, when the predictable regimen of their chemo schedules peeled away and they were catapulted back into the reality of the work world.
The following tips are useful not just for cancer patients, but for anyone who is young and job searching after facing major health issues.
Create Two Timelines. Differentiate between your short-term and long-term job goals. Having a short-term career goal at a second-choice job may help you to pay off medical debts or build your resume. Brainstorm a list of short-term jobs that have transferable skills relating to your long-term dream job.
Volunteer. Diving into the work world can be taxing on your body after a long break from the daily grind. Consider seeking a part-time volunteer job. Volunteering is a great way to help readjust to the mental and physical routine of work while also boosting your resume.
Build Confidence. Feelings of inadequacy can be a barrier to success in an interview and in the workplace. Believe in your capabilities; if you don’t you cannot expect an employer to. It is normal to have trepidation about re-entering the workforce after facing a major illness. Talk about your feelings with a therapist or social worker so they don’t interfere with how you present yourself to future employers.
Engage An Expert. There is no one-size fits all remedy to resume writing and interviewing after you have been absent from school or work due to illness. Whether to disclose your illness to an employer and how to hide gaps on your resume depends on your personality, your communication style, your field of work, the size of the company, and the perceived atmosphere of the workplace in question. Seek the help of a social worker with extensive experience in career counseling for people with disabilities. Work together to create an individualized approach that reflects your specific career goals and work history.
Dress Rehearsal. Should you and a counselor decide it is appropriate to disclose your illness to a prospective employer, practice your answer out loud, make your explanation brief, and end on a positive note by enforcing your skills and what you bring to the job.
Have you ever faced an illness that hindered your confidence in the work world? How did you readjust to the transition? What worked and what didn’t? Please share!