5 Tips For Navigating The Workforce After Cancer
Re-entering the workforce after cancer isn't simple. You have just been through a life-altering experience and come out on the other side. You might be asking yourself, "what now"? If so, keep reading.
Finding a new job can be an overwhelming experience for anyone. But when you add recently beating cancer to the equation, it can feel even more foreign.
You may have had to step away from your job temporarily or leave altogether during treatment. Many people after cancer wish to return to a life that feels as normal as possible.
As I watched two close relatives try to maintain their careers, as well as find new ones all while balancing an illness, I picked up tips that can help you regain your confidence and re-establish yourself during the job search process:
1. Know Your Strengths.
Simply put, know what skills you already possess and can bring to the table. We are all good at something and bad at other things. Come up with a list of your strengths, and if you need help, ask friends or family what they think yours are!
2. Be Open To Trying A New Career Path.
If your strength isn't what it was like before cancer, a physically demanding job might not be the best fit- But you may have gained new skills. The empathy you developed with others when going through treatment may lead you to a profession in the medical field, for example. Your journey has changed you and a change in careers might be what you need. Take a look at the person who has come out on the other end of the cancer fight and see what jobs appeal to that person. You may also consider a career change if your previous job included working conditions that contributed to your cancer diagnosis. Leukemia and Mesothelioma have been found to be linked to exposure to chemicals that come with certain job positions.
3. Tailor Your Resume To Accurately Represent You.
If you had to take time off from work during your treatment you may end up with weird gaps in the employment history section of your resume. Consider just including the years you worked for a company. This can conceal any time that you took off for treatment. Having gaps in employment history isn't uncommon, and if you choose to leave your resume as it is that's fine, just be prepared to answer questions regarding the time gaps.
4. Consider How To Answer Certain Questions.
Plan ahead for responding to questions during an interview. As with any interview try to have responses at the ready. Think about questions regarding your health- how much do you want your employer to know? Don't be deceitful, but something as simple as, "I had some health issues arise but they have been dealt with" can be a concise explanation that doesn't leave concerns in the minds of potential employers. Go over some of your answers with family or friends and get their feedback. You should also look into what employers can and can't ask you about. Federal laws offer a lot of protection when it comes to your health history and what information is relevant to your job.
5. Be Wary Of Your Social Media History.
Although social media is a great outlet and source of support during treatment, it may reveal more than you like when you're going back into the workforce. Audit your sites and make sure that they don't reveal more information than you want. There tools that exist that find specific keywords in your facebook history and you should look through posts you are tagged in as well. If you wouldn't want your employer to see it then it should probably go. This is relevant not only to your health information, but any other personal information on your social media accounts.
When returning to work, one of the most important things to remember is to take things at your own pace. Evaluate your abilities and find a career that aligns with them. Working doesn't have to be ominous. With a few adjustments you can get back on your feet and enjoy your career!