Resume Building for the Chronically Ill and Caretaker

As an adult living with rare disease, there have been significant gaps in my employment history. I am sure many adults with health complications experience their workforce years this way, whether paid work is missed due to a major surgery such as organ transplantation, or a prolonged bout of sickness or medical treatment. I do not doubt that stay-at-home mothers and fathers or guardians of young children have also missed seasons of paid work due to a child or ward needing vigilant care. The practical question is what does one do about this lived reality on a cover letter and resume after one is ready to rejoin the workforce?

A cover letter usually accompanies a resume. It is the company addressed letter explaining why one is the best choice for the position applied for. A skills-based resume is what comes in handy when there’s little to no work history to be accounted for. Whether one has been a patient or an advocate for a patient as a parent or guardian, incredible communication skills have to be honed between doctors and self or doctors, patient, insurance company, and pharmacist. Communication skills are highly valued in today’s workforce, be it a manual labor job or an intellectual pursuit.

Communication includes speaking, listening, reading, and writing. It is valued on any job whatever the requirements may be. In composing a skills-based resume, especially if secondary education is also missing from one’s life accomplishments, consider the following tips in building your own resume to be proud of:

● Use strong action verbs (i.e. “able to dialogue in audible and written words with doctors concerning my own care and translated the information to my pharmacist”)

● Use descriptive adjectives (i.e. “loquaciously spoke on behalf of myself and other patients living with Cystinosis”) ● Include all volunteer experiences ● List at least two skills expertly used on these volunteer jobs

● Detail strengths about one’s work ethic and passionate goals inside the cover letter

● Detail awareness (in the cover letter versus the resume) and efforts to improve on weaknesses about oneself on the job

The ability to do work should always be emphasized over personal physical ability. Honesty is commendable; what one can accomplish is what employers need to know. Hiring a person who is aware of their shortcomings, and willing to turn them into potential strengths shows emotional intelligence. Both communication skills and high emotional intelligence are in demand in today’s workforce.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

Rebekah Palmer

Rebekah Palmer

Rebekah Palmer is the author of two books published by Aneko Press: A Letter to my Friend and A Letter to Myself. She also has poetry included in the anthology Strength: Lives Touched By Cystinosis. She is a rare disease news curator for her blog Cystinosis Society. Please visit her author profile on Goodreads and her author page on Facebook called Jairus Daughter to ask any questions or to reach out.

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