FYI – If you tried to “comment” recently and couldn’t, that’s fixed now!
Two chronic issues for people with chronic illness who are job interviewing are: disclosure and employment gaps.
In this post, I’ll discuss disclosure. I’ll cover employment gaps next time.
Disclosure centers on 3 big questions:
- Should I say it?
- What should I say?
- What is the right time?
Recently while discussing what he’d say in his upcoming job interview, my client said that I seemed to have shifted my position on whether to disclose or not. He was referring to Managing Your Career in The Wall Street Journal (“Should Job Hunters Reveal Their Illness” — scroll down to the article on my web page), in which I seem to make a case solely for pre-employment disclosure. The article makes some good points and is worth reading.
But that article was written over 5 years ago, in a very different job market when jobs were plentiful. And the reporter only captured part of what I said.
For the record, I’m not a believer in rampant disclosure. I haven’t heard a good reason yet to disclose a chronic illness if you can do the job as it’s expected. This is your health history and there’s no reason you have to share it if it’s not relevant to the discussion. “Leave This Info Out Of Your Interview”, offers good tips and puts your health history in the red light, tmi zone.
But what if you live with symptoms that affect your performance? Or maybe you’re “fine” at this moment but frequently have symptoms that make work difficult? In that case, disclosure might be a good idea.
Yes, there’s stiff competition for this job and you don’t want to create “red flags” unless it seems necessary. On the other hand, if you ask for a flexible schedule in the first of work because of illness that you never brought up, you could make people pretty angry with you. Tred lightly and carefully.
If you decide to disclose during the interview stage, wait until you’ve created a positive impression. Don’t bring it up in the first interview when they’re getting to know you. Keep your explanation simple, to the point and focus on how the symptoms affect how your work.
Now — use this to your advantage. Demonstrate that you’re a proactive employee by offering a few suggestions for what can be done relatively easily to accommodate your needs. Show that you’ve done your homework and found that their employee benefits policy allows for the flex scheduling you need. You might even suggest that illness has to you how to think on your feet, problem solve and be resilient. Just don’t go overboard with the sob story 🙂
Looking for more info and ideas? I discuss this in detail in my booklet (Are You Talking? – part of the Career Thrive Series).
What have you found works — or backfired — for you?