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Returning to Work: Explaining the Resume Cancer Gap

By Abby Henry Singh April 20, 2016Pearls of Wisdom Blog

If you had to stop working because of cancer treatment, you may want or need to return to work once treatment ends. Your doctor has cleared you to work, you are ready to being the job search, but what about the gap in your resume?

Wouldn’t it be great if cancer survivors could list “cancer patient” on their resumes? Just imagine

Midtown General Hospital (2015-2016)

Breast Cancer Patient:

  • Managed side effects of chemotherapy
  • Changed mastectomy drain bulbs
  • Tied headscarves
  • Scheduled appointments
  • Navigated health insurance

Personally, I would be very impressed to see that on a job application, but for now, here are some tips for handling resume gaps due to cancer treatment.

  • Remember your diagnosis is confidential and you do NOT have to disclose your cancer survivor status in an application or in an interview.
  • On your resume, list your skills first with details. At the bottom of your resume, briefly list the companies you’ve worked for, your job titles, and the total number of years you worked in the position.
  • Include volunteer and community work. Translate this work into relevant job skills like the ability to multitask, plan events, and organize.
  • In an interview, keep your answer short and emphasize your ability to do the job.Your employer only needs to know that you are capable of performing the duties in the job description. Anticipate the question about the gap in employment and prepare your answer ahead of time.
  • Update (or create) a LinkedIn profile. Focus on your summary to explain your experience, skills, and interests.
  • Try freelance and part-time work while searching for a more permanent position, and include the skills and experience you gain on your resume.
  • Have your resume reviewed by a professional. Cancer and Careers provides free resume review services for cancer survivors. Colleges and universities also usually offer career services to alumni.

Finally, any job search takes time and patience. Don’t get discouraged. Good luck on your search!

Abby Henry Singh

Author Abby Henry Singh

Manger Content, Outreach, and Outcomes Abby Henry Singh is a native of Sevierville, Tennessee, and a graduate of Belmont University with a bachelor’s degree in English and history. She has been a member of PearlPoint Cancer Support for over 5 years. Previously, Singh was the Program and Outreach Manger for the Lupus Foundation of America, Mid-South Chapter where she worked to raise disease awareness and support those diagnosed with the disease through educational programs. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and the Belmont English alumni book club.

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