Naturally, as a coach, I have more questions than answers. But there is one guideline I’ve found is worth following:
If symptoms get in the way of doing the job as it is expected to be performed and it will be obvious from the day you start, you should disclose.
But there’s more to consider. I discuss the pros and cons of chronic illness disclosure in your job as well as when, how and what to say in my book, Women Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working Girlfriend and in my booklet, Are You Talking, part of the Career Thrive Series.
But a reader’s comment on a blog post (Job Interviews and Disclosure) made me realize that there’s another important factor. She wrote that the fine print of her employer’s insurance policy says that you can be fired or excluded from medical coverage if you don’t disclose an illness in advance.
I don’t think that all insurance policies say this. But how do you find out prior to hire? The “negotiation” phase make sense. This is when you’ve been offered the job and can ask questions and negotiate your “demands”, including seeing information about any benefits policy. I’d be curious if any readers have asked about this at that point?
But that doesn’t answer the real concern a person might have about losing the job offer with disclosure. I don’t have to tell you that there are no guarantees. But as I’ve written so many times, you can be as prepared as possible with strategic thinking and careful planning.
Consider the situations in which this issue might come up. Plan what you would say about living with this illness in an interview, a job negotiation or once hired. Include how it impacts you and how it doesn’t. Finally, stress that you have managed it successfully in your work life thus far. Your confidence and strength will resonate more strongly than their concerns.
And if your confidence about working with illness feels weak, get the help you need to build it up so it doesn’t get in your way!