For me, personally, there really is no good way to put in your resume that you are not responsible for a gap in your work history. If I did put that endometriosis disrupted my life, then employers would be less likely to hire me. Many employers do not even know what endometriosis is or, even worse, think it is a highly exaggerated disease. Beyond that, many do not understand that it operates on a spectrum and affects every woman differently. Not only would I be setting myself up as an excuse maker (and thus, unreliable), but they would also wonder when I would be 'struck by illness' again. So, my endometriosis is a secret, hidden in my work history, only revealed by a serious downgrade in activity and career choices.
The question remaining then is how in the world do I recover from the damage endometriosis did to my job opportunities? How does anyone recover? Let's be honest, endometriosis is not cheap--many endo-friends of mine are seriously struggling to keep their heads above the floods of medical bills that come with it. And it makes keeping a good job very difficult; having to take 1-2 extra sick days a month can really build up animosity in a work environment. So it makes it imperative to have a good job but also makes having a good job really difficult. Oh goody.
Well, here is my advice. It's the advice I am currently following and that I hope will yield up some decent results. And, of course, I'll update as soon as anything comes through. If anyone would like to add further commentary or suggestions, feel free to add at the bottom or email me.
- Create an impeccable resume. One that employers will remember and respect. CareerOneStop.org has a helpful resume guide that gives step-by-step instructions and advice on how to write this. Even if you already have a resume, you are always able to improve it.
- Write a cover letter for every job. Even if they do not request one, even a short two-paragraph explanation for why you are applying for the job and why you are qualified can set you apart from other candidates. Additionally, it supports that any gaps were circumstantial and not due to 'laziness'.
- Peruse multiple job boards. I've looked on sites from Craigslist to Indeed.com to CareerBuilder.com and etc. these weeks. Every site has different opportunities and different methods of browsing. You are more likely to find a job that fits if you are willing to explore various sources.
- Find ways to keep a good attitude. One of the hardest parts of job exploration is the constant rejection and being ignored. Or, even harder, when you receive a response and you instantly realize someone is trying to scam you. Look at it as a frustrating experience that gives you the chance to learn and grow. Frustration occurs when you are blocked from a desired goal. The tension experienced is released when you can finally obtain that goal. So keep working hard to obtain it, look forward to that extreme satisfaction and relief when you finally reach what you are working for. It's a great feeling.
- Apply in person whenever possible. Online applications are easy and convenient and do not really prove sincere interest. Often, these online job searches give addresses/locations of the company you are applying to. I advise you to print up your cover letter and resume on some professional quality paper and drop it off yourself (preferably, not in sweatpants).
- If you need more education to further your career but do not have the medical health to attend full time school, consider night classes or home study. I am finishing my remaining courses via independent study. It is a great way to attain your education without endometriosis forcing you to drop out or something.
This pretty much sums up what I've got for now. I need to prove to prospective employers that I am not lazy or unmotivated. My resume suggests otherwise, but it's not true. So right now, my only job is to make these people see that I am determined and hard working. Endometriosis does sometimes make me unreliable (I cannot help when a bad episode/flare up strikes), but it has also made me strong, conscientious, capable, and more productive when I am healthy (to make up for lost time). If people do not recognize the good qualities in an individual who has suffered from illness, then it is simply may job to make those qualities evident.