When you are chronically ill, searching for a job can feel impossible. Among other issues, it can be hard to know if and when to disclose your disability. I know. My name is Morgan and I suffer from multiple chronic illnesses. Though I’m back in school now, studying Business and Management at Oxford Brookes University, here are some of my best tips for young people job-hunting while battling a chronic condition:

1. Think About Location

I used to think it was better to do any job than none at all. To an extent this is true because any work experience will help you become more employable – but not if it kills you in the process!  Before you even start applying for jobs, start thinking about the location you can or want to realistically work. This will save you wasting your own time or disappointing the employer if you pull out last minute.

2. Use STAR and Save Your Answers

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Approach, Results, and can be a great way to structure your answers to interview questions. You can even add an “E” to make STARE, with the last step being “Evaluation.” Learn the STAR(E) technique HERE. Having a structure to fall back on can help decrease your nervousness when answering questions. If you are submitting written answers to interview questions, be sure to save them for use in future applications.

3. Build Your Confidence

Many of us with chronic conditions struggle to find confidence during the application process. And to build confidence, there’s nothing like practice! Consider starting to apply for positions even while you are still in school. You may want to do this even if you are unsure if you want to work for the places where you are applying, just to help build up your confidence.  Many organizations have different processes in the interview process, including video interviews, psychometric tests, tests during the interview, one-to-one interviews, panel interviews, assessment centers and more. Gaining experience with these many interview formats will help your confidence when you start applying for real, later on. Working through many applications can also help you learn to deal with rejection. Don’t give up! Applying many times is a great way to learn what companies are looking for.

4. Disclosing Your Chronic Illness

You can disclose your illness at any stage but you should do this BEFORE you sign a contract. The reason for this is that failing to disclose a condition could invalidate a job contract and could release your employer from the requirement to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your condition. I disclosed my illnesses once I had signed an offer letter — it is generally deemed illegal discrimination for a company to offer you a position and then retract the offer based on your disability.  If you are unsure how to go about this seek advice from your college or university. They also may be able to give you a list of companies that are known to be friendly to people with disabilities.

5. Request Reasonable Adjustments

If you have learning disabilities and/or chronic illnesses you can request reasonable adjustments for any stage of your interview and also for your job, itself. I did this to get extra time to complete psychometric tests. I also have to attend multiple hospital appointments, so have agreed to make up any missed time. It is useful when requesting reasonable adjustments to know enough about the interview and recruitment process so that you can decide which parts of this process will need to be adjusted based on your condition.  

I hope this post helps you find your dream job. Thank you for reading and good luck!

Morgan Isabella Shaw
I have borderline personality disorder, interstitial cystitis, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome III, and Mast Cell Activation Disorder. Currently, I am studying Business and Management at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. Find more of my writing at brainsandbodiesblog.com.
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