This month’s Career Blogging Collective Topic is: Job hunting rules to break. To read what the other bloggers have to say, scroll down.
I wasn’t sure about this. It’s not as if there are many “job hunting” rules in the chronic illness world. But as I got started, I realized that over the years, I’ve encountered perceptions in my coaching practice that are worth discussing here.
1. Don’t ever talk about illness or debilitating symptoms in a job interview. Too many clients have told me that this is what their husband/wife, friend, doctor or even disease association says. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Since most chronic illness symptoms aren’t visible (how many times have you been told how great you look when you feel lousy?), disclosure seems to be the reason people don’t get or lose jobs. Clearly timing can be tricky. My rule of thumb is: discuss illness or symptoms that impact you at work. Do they get in the way of normal work behavior – or normal behavior for your job? If no, then take your time and be sure you have a good reason once you’ve started your job. But, if yes, do you want to start off with a supervisor who feels blindsided? “Oh, by the way, I need to start at 10:00 am rather than 8:00am, an office where I can control the heat/a-c, voice recognition software”. Probably not. So when do you talk about it? I suggest that you wait to discuss this when you’ve been offered the job and your prospective employer is invested in your value.
2. Gaps in your resume or underemployment will make it impossible to get a job. If this is you, it’s natural to think that a “resume gatekeeper” would reject your resume right off the bat . But there are creative ways to explain a work history without discussing dis-abling chronic illness. The first step is to have a resume that shows your strengths (there are qualified resume writers in this collective who can help with that). If you still find that your resume isn’t opening doors, then focus on building your networks so you can rely on the resume less. Once you’re in front of a hiring person, tell your story to focus on your strengths. If asked directly why you chose to take a job that took you “down the ladder” or why you have employment gaps, be prepared with a solid explanation. It’s not necessary to say anymore than is asked. But you also don’t want to seem to be hiding anything, either. It’s a balancing act, so practice.
3. If you’re looking for part time work, don’t apply for full time work. Why not? If you can’t work full time now, then it makes sense to look for part time work. But if you need a job and you’re only seeing full time jobs that you’d qualify for, what do you have to lose? I’ve seen many instances where an employer was willing to be flexible — as long as it doesn’t cost more money — if it looks like the fit is good. Don’t let illness drag down your self-esteem and your sense of value.
The reality is that looking for jobs in 2011 is a lot different than it was in 1950, 1970 or 1990. It’s clearly not easier. And, if you’re living with chronic illness, you face challenges. But you can do this if you’re motivated, persistent and clear-sighted in your vision.
What interview rules do you ignore?
Career Collective Bloggers:
Juice Up Your Job Search, @debrawheatman
It’s not your age, it’s old thinking, @GayleHoward
Want a Job? Ignore these outdated job search beliefs @erinkennedycprw
Job Search Then and Now, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
Break the Rules or Change the Game? @WalterAkana
The New: From The Employer’s-Eye View, @ResumeService
Job Search: Breakable Rules and Outdated Beliefs, @KatCareerGal
Job Hunting Rules to Break (Or Why and How to Crowd Your Shadow), @chandlee @StartWire,
Shades of Gray, @DawnBugni
3 Rules That Are Worth Your Push-Back, @WorkWithIllness
How to find a job: stop competing and start excelling, @Keppie_Careers
Be You-Nique: Resume Writing Rules to Break, @ValueIntoWords
Modernizing Your Job Search, @LaurieBerenson
Don’t Get Caught With an Old School Resume, @barbarasafani
How Breaking the Rules Will Help You in Your Job Search, @expatcoachmegan
Beat the Job-Search-Is-a-Numbers-Game Myth, @JobHuntOrg
25 Habits to Break if You Want a Job, @CareerSherpa