Finding Stability

Job Search Advice for Job Hunting After Cancer

For many, returning to the workforce is a big part of creating their new life after cancer. Here is some job search advice for navigating your career after treatment.

Job hunting after cancer can be a bit daunting. To put boost your confidence as you look, here is some job search advice to help you put your best foot forward as you build your new post-cancer life.

Consider Your “Why”

People find themselves job hunting after cancer for different reasons, and they need different job search advice. Perhaps their job ended, or they needed to leave their job during their illness. For some, the experience of facing cancer caused them to reevaluate different aspects of life, including employment, and they decided to spend their workdays in a position that better aligns with their personal priorities. It’s common for people to reconsider their career, and even their political and spiritual convictions, after experiencing cancer.

Your reason for job hunting will influence your approach. If you’re looking for a job because you need insurance or income right now, your attitude and method will be different from seeking a new job that’s in better alignment with your values and the way you want to spend your time. The second approach will involve a great deal more soul-searching and may require more time to find a position that is a good fit.

Addressing the Gap

Gaps in employment are more common now than ever. People take time off from working for many different reasons such as continuing education, raising children, elder care and taking time to travel. In the current economy, with layoffs and contract work a regular part of life, periods of time between jobs aren’t the cause for concern they once were.

Your resume can be restructured to de-emphasize the periods of unemployment by keeping the focus on skills rather than positions held. List your skills and how you used them at the top of the resume with a brief overview of positions held at the end. You can also forego the months of employment, saying you worked for an employer from 2014 to 2016 without mentioning that it was from December to January of those years.

Be prepared to answer questions about the gaps in your employment. It’s illegal for potential employers to ask you about your health, but they can ask about those periods of unemployment. Cancer and Careers suggests a tactic they dub the “swivel,” where you acknowledge that you had a health issue, state that you’re ready to move on from it and immediately redirect the conversation to how you’d like to contribute to the hiring company.

Creative Solutions

When considering employment opportunities, it’s important to realistically consider what you’re able to manage. Some people might need to return to work on a part-time basis. For others, a home-based job might be the best option. More employers are considering home-based and part-time employment than did in the past, so this may be a good bridge for you to re-enter the workforce.

If you need accommodations from your employer, as protected by the American Disabilities Act, let them know immediately after the job offer. They can’t make an accommodation they don’t know you need.

Whatever you decide about returning to work, it can be a wonderful boost to return to being around people on a regular basis and feeling productive. Remember to take good care of yourself; get plenty of rest and eat well to ease your transition back to work, and help you maintain the health and vitality to excel in your work and personal life.

Going back to work can be an important step in your post-treatment life. The team at UVA Cancer Center can help you land the right job for you.

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Judy Schwartz Haley
Judy Schwartz Haley