Writing a resumé can be difficult. Not only are you trying to sell yourself to a stranger. You must do it within a word count or page limit while highlighting your intellectual ability, professional capability and personality traits. The part that daunts me the most is the addition of references who may, for whatever reason, may not promote you as well as you would hope, or would contradict some fact you have listed. Having said all of this, imagine how it must feel for the people that are already feeling anxious or unsure about their ability to work due to an illness or disability.


When I Have Had Work

It may sound like I am not a great worker but I am mostly bad at retaining communication with people and often forget my past roles. Am I exaggerating here, I wonder, or, will they be pissed I forgot to call them all those months ago? Reading my last few posts you may have noticed that I think a lot about careers and how illness can impact them. Do I overthink them? Maybe. Am I unsure about how the outside world sees illnesses like mine and employees like me? Probably. Do my past performances and health history play repeatedly in my mind, changing a small eddy of wind into a destructive tornado? Definitely. Am I Right? Well…

My Outlook May Not Be Accurate

Truthfully, I know I am overplaying these situations. This is no secret to me. However blindingly obvious it is to other people that my feelings on this matter are unfounded, it cannot be said that I am alone. The habit of thinking a false thought which we feel is true, but makes us feel worse or negatively about ourselves, is known as a cognitive distortion. Part of mine stems from being a fit, able and on-the-ball person who has suffered from physical and mental injury. I know I am wrong in my thinking but I cannot stop myself from thinking this way. There is just no confidence in my abilities anymore and I feel I have to include this change to potential employers.

Writing a Resumé for the Chronically Ill

It is hard writing a resumé when you need to include clauses. These clauses are not for ‘them’ so much as they are for you. To indicate to anyone who considers employing you that are not hiding anything and to ensure they are aware of your needs. Some news, however, should be shared during interview phase. This ensures they are able to ask questions directly to you and you are able to elaborate and clarify any points that may cause confusion or misunderstandings. As far as I am aware, employers are not allowed to make assumptions or decisions about your employability based on known injuries or illnesses unless it directly interferes with your ability to fulfil the jobs role. For instance, if you are highly asthmatic and allergic to pollens and fine dust particles, you may not be able to work in a grain collection silo out in farming communities. This does not mean you do not have a right to apply for the job, nor does it mean you should leave medical details off your resumé when applying for the position.

 

There Are Other Ways to Get a Job

If all of this talk about winning a job through the lottery of anonymous resumés and 15-minute interviews with strangers is making you feel uneasy do not worry! I have found an incredible way to get out there, into the field you want. It can let you to be known to the employers and recruiters who will set you up. I have made no secret about this path and do not expect you to pay me a fee for this knowledge. Get yourself some time as a volunteer. You want to offer your time at no cost as this allows employers to see who you are in the right environment. They see how you respond to others, get to know your personality and see how you are impacted the by the illness, injury or disability you live with. Without the impetus of money, you behave more genuinely. It also is a big comment on your personal character. For your benefit as well, you can learn about the role and see if it is specifically suited to you and your abilities. While you are volunteering you are not sitting at home, stagnating. You are making valuable connections of all sorts. This can get you involved in a community as well as creating links you can feel confident to put on a resumé. In my opinion, these links can be your best asset on any resumé you write.

Your Resumé Referees

Why I think your most recent colleagues in any paid or unpaid position are your most valuable asset is a biased opinion, of course. But I feel I am justified in my comment. I will use myself as an example. For the last brief while I have been volunteering at a Creative Reuse Education Center. One day a week I show up and pull apart products, organise stock and display small components for members. During this time, I have had chemotherapy and an horrific case of the cold. The people I work with have seen me work through my illness, fulfill my tasks and communicate with them appropriately. I could not ask for better recommendations or confirmations regarding my performance and ability to work through my active chronic illnesses.

Interning Gives Confidence For Resumé and Work

For me it is a case that my illness did not exist before with my old work colleagues and so they would not be able to vouch for me. It may be different for you, and that is great. I guess, in the end, I use unpaid work, interning as a volunteer in places I want to gain employment not just for my resumé. I also use this approach for myself. If I do not feel as though I can meet the needs of working in a position, career or industry, then volunteering as an intern-style position is greatly reassuring. There is no commitment or pressure as there is when you are working. Through volunteering I have grown confident in my ability to complete some tasks. I have learned the threshold to my skills and capabilities, thus I have realised I cannot complete other tasks. For those I am just not able, for one reason or another. And for those, I am okay with them.

As you can see, I am slowly gaining my confidences in my employability.

 

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