Help, I have an interview tomorrow-need to explain 3 year absence from working-Update-I got the job!

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Posted 3/5/2013 by creativechicky in NSBR Board
 

creativechicky
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Posted: 3/5/2013 3:12:48 PM
I left my county job because I had an undiagnosed strep infection that was contagious. I also had chronic fatigue symptoms too. I have an interview tomorrow. How do I explain this to a potential employer?

Thanks in advance, I'm really nervous and excited at the same time!!! I really need this job =)


Update- There were 2 people interviewing me and they didn't even ask!! They were just focused on my past experience. Also, the Supervisor and I have a lot in common. We were both in the Navy and both went to the same University! I think it went pretty well =)


They may not even ask. Sometimes the other pieces of your resume are what they are interested in, not the gap.



Molove you hit the nail on the head.

I'll update you guys if I get the job. Right now I need to get my thank you cards done =)

Update-I got the job, thank you so much for your advice! They didn't even ask me about my abscence!!!

scorPEAo
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Posted: 3/5/2013 3:16:48 PM
It's probably not going to be what anyone else says, but I'd tell them the truth. Maybe just say you were having health issues and rather than have your work, and co-workers, suffer you decided to resign until you had a clean bill of health.



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Posted: 3/5/2013 3:20:28 PM
"I took a medical leave of absence." They won't ask you any more questions and it's none of their business. Hopefully they won't hold it against you, maybe you need to add something about the unknown cause is completely cleared up and never coming back.




Gsquaredmom

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Posted: 3/5/2013 3:23:15 PM
If you are going to tell them the truth, make it clear that the health issues are resolved and you are ready to work again, per your doctors's advice.

Some people say that they were caring for an ill family member (YOU being the family member), and you are no longer needed.



Luvnlifelady
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Posted: 3/5/2013 3:24:04 PM
I've been job hunting lately and unfortunately in my opinion, the truth gets your application thrown out. I would just say "family matter" or something similar.

Yes, usually honesty is the best policy, but at least here, they are getting 200 applicants for a minimum wage, part-time job, so you have to get creative.



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Posted: 3/5/2013 3:28:18 PM
I would go with the truth, but explain it was a difficult decision and that you've missed working, etc. Hopefully you've kept on related business news and computer programs that may be necessary to your field. That way you can make them feel confident that you're fully prepared to dive right back in.

Good Luck!


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Posted: 3/5/2013 3:30:41 PM
Family Medical Leave. You are not lying, and they can't ask you if it was for yourself, or a family member.


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Posted: 3/5/2013 4:09:16 PM
Just say you were having health issues but now you are fully recovered and eager to get back to work.

Good luck!



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Posted: 3/5/2013 4:19:53 PM
i would avoid mentioning health issues and reframe it as family time, change of pace

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Posted: 3/5/2013 4:25:21 PM
I would just say there was an illness in the family, which is the truth without giving details.

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Posted: 3/5/2013 4:31:00 PM
Honestly, as a hiring manager, if you tell me you left a previous job because of health issues, it would not make me excited about hiring you. Training a new employee takes time and is an investment- I want to know I can count on you working out. IF you do decide to be honest, make sure you offer an explanation that can "clear" you- Health issue that is completely under control/no longer an issue. Since an interviewer cannot ask questions about health issues, you need to give the whole story or nothing.

If you do give another reason, make sure it won't come back to bite you with a reference or employment check.

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Posted: 3/5/2013 4:33:36 PM
I can tell you from years of being involved in hiring decisions, that most hiring managers will hear medical problem and kick your application to the curb. Do not tell them you had a medical problem.

I would tell a creative truth, that I had to quit work to take care of a sick family member.

scorPEAo
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Posted: 3/5/2013 4:55:45 PM

Honestly, as a hiring manager, if you tell me you left a previous job because of health issues, it would not make me excited about hiring you.


So, you'd rather a new applicant lie to you? I have been employed since I was 15. If I took 3 years off because of a health issue after being employed for over 20 years, I would think you could look at my employment history and get an idea of my work ethic.



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Posted: 3/5/2013 5:24:45 PM

So, you'd rather a new applicant lie to you? I have been employed since I was 15. If I took 3 years off because of a health issue after being employed for over 20 years, I would think you could look at my employment history and get an idea of my work ethic.


Well, there's a perfect world, and a real world. In a perfect world employers would understand, believe you had recovered from your 3 year illness, and just look at your work history.

Unfortunately, you are going to be dealing with the real world, and in that one, the vast majority of employers/HR depts. will smile, ask you a couple more appropriate questions, thank you for your time, say they'll be in touch, and that will be the end of your interview...and your employment opportunities with that company.

Take the advice you're getting here and just say you took time off to care for a family member with health issues. They cannot ask who it was, and the fact it was you is not entirely untruthful...but if you hope to get a job, in this economy, fudge the answer.

ETA: This response is not aimed at the poster I quoted...I realize she is not the OP. The advice is generic.

S Pea
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Posted: 3/5/2013 5:29:01 PM

So, you'd rather a new applicant lie to you?


No, I would not rather they lie to me. But if you just tell me you left for a health issue and give no more explanation, I probably wont risk it. Now, if you tell me the whole story (in a quick, efficient manner) I wouldn't hold it against you. With limited questioning ability, I have to base my opinion of you off of what you tell me.

I know life and illness happens, but if I'm making a decision that is best for my business, potential absences or a short-term employment prospect are not things that benefit me.

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Posted: 3/5/2013 8:45:56 PM
If you do decide to tell them why you left, I would find a different way to word it that isn't so open to interpretation and questions. I'll pick it apart, so you see what I mean.

Undiagnosed strep infection that was contagoius? So, you left because you were sick or because you were contagious? How did you know you were contagious if you were undiagnosed and found out later you were contagious? It took 3 years to get strep diagnosed? You are only contagious for 24 hours after starting antibiotics, sounds weird.

Chronic fatigue symptoms? So, were you diagnosed with CFS or just had the symptoms? That would be a red flag, they'll think you got stressed, burnt out and well, fatigued, and quit. Your description sounds vague and a bit flaky, TBH.

Glad you are feeling better. I would word it as caring for a sick family member and you are happy to report everything is great now/they moved/went in to a nursing home and how excited you are to be back working. I would make sure it is worded so they don't think the family member may relapse and require you to quit again.

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Posted: 3/5/2013 8:54:39 PM

Take the advice you're getting here and just say you took time off to care for a family member with health issues.

There is NO WAY I would tell them the truth. I wouldn't lie but I would not tell the whole truth either, especially chronic fatigue syndrome. You may have honestly had chronic fatigue syndrome but there are many people who claim to have CFS that really don't. I think it would a huge red flag for an employer.





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Posted: 3/5/2013 9:12:14 PM
"I took a leave of absence due to taking care of a family member. The situation was resolved, but my previous employer was unable to hold the position open. So I have brushed up on my skills and looking for employment."


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Posted: 3/5/2013 9:57:17 PM
Just tell the truth


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Posted: 3/5/2013 10:22:15 PM
tell the truth. if hired, it will eventually come out anyway. I know if we weren't told the truth by an employee & later found out we'd not have a favorable opinion of them.

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Posted: 3/5/2013 10:28:27 PM
"Undiagnosed strep infection that was contagoius? So, you left because you were sick or because you were contagious? How did you know you were contagious if you were undiagnosed and found out later you were contagious? It took 3 years to get strep diagnosed? You are only contagious for 24 hours after starting antibiotics, sounds weird. "

Yep, that.

Can't you just have chosen to not work for three years? Not everyone has to work.

I took 6 years off to be with my family. That was the truth. That's what I told them. I got the job after a short interview



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Posted: 3/5/2013 10:33:13 PM
Why not just say "I was ill for 3 years. It took some time for doctors to correctly diagnose and treat me but I'm now healthy and ready to return to work."

That's pretty much what I have said at interviews. Nobody blinked an eye. They aren't allowed to ask what the illness was.

You'd be surprised at how many people need to take time off for medical issues. I don't think it's a stigma so much anymore. People will likely jump to the conclusion that it was cancer, but there are plenty of reasons. For me it was Lyme disease. I couldn't explain that because many think Lyme disease is a myth or not a serious disease.



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Posted: 3/5/2013 10:46:47 PM
Just rereading some other posts and wanted to comment.

If you say you left for medical issues and no other explanation, my assumption would be that you were in rehab recovering from some kind of addiction. That won't bode well for you!

If you say family matters, it can conjure the same assumptions above or will indicate there could be ongoing family issues.

If you say you took time off to care for a family member, I can almost guarantee that will come back to bite you in the butt! What if the interviewer relates to you about caring for elderly? You'll have to create a story on the spot...not worth the risk!

And what will your previous employer give as the reason you left? For me, my previous employer said the I left because of an illness. He was gracious enough to explain that I tried to keep working despite the physical limitations the illness caused.

Good luck on the interview!!


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Posted: 3/5/2013 11:32:59 PM
I would say I was taking care of a sick parent.



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Posted: 3/6/2013 5:35:53 AM

I would say I was taking care of a sick parent.


I have been home taking care of two sick parents (4 yrs) and going to college simultaneously and being a stay at home mom. They have passed away and I am 1 class from graduating and after 40+job applicants I only had two interviews. I mention my absence with family care in a sentence and on resume, which IS true, and its not getting me anywhere.

I even went to a temp agency, scored extremely high on the software testing and haven't gotten anything that way either.

I know its a rough time write now (One of the two interviews said - it took them two months to narrow down applicants to interviews), but I have a lot to offer and wish someone would see it.

Don't give up, I am not.

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Posted: 3/6/2013 6:27:17 AM
I have been home taking care of two sick parents (4 yrs) and going to college simultaneously and being a stay at home mom. They have passed away and I am 1 class from graduating and after 40+job applicants I only had two interviews. I mention my absence with family care in a sentence and on resume, which IS true, and its not getting me anywhere.

===============================================

I am not sure it is necessary for you to mention caring for your parents. In fact, I think it hurts you in your case. You are in school and a full-time parent. That's enough.



creativechicky
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Posted: 3/6/2013 10:02:45 AM

Undiagnosed strep infection that was contagoius? So, you left because you were sick or because you were contagious? How did you know you were contagious if you were undiagnosed and found out later you were contagious? It took 3 years to get strep diagnosed? You are only contagious for 24 hours after starting antibiotics, sounds weird.

Chronic fatigue symptoms? So, were you diagnosed with CFS or just had the symptoms? That would be a red flag, they'll think you got stressed, burnt out and well, fatigued, and quit. Your description sounds vague and a bit flaky, TBH.



I had Strep B in my lungs that was causing me to cough. The Dr. told me it was allergies but I noticed my family getting sick a lot. So I asked to see an infectious disease doctor. She took a sputum culture and there was Strep B in my sputum which was causing me to have the cough, spreading it to others, and the chronic fatigue symptoms. It was kind of like having undiagnosed walking pneumonia if that makes sense.

Strep A is the one that causes the sore throat, etc.

Anyway, thanks for the advice. The Peas are awesome as always!!!!!

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Posted: 3/6/2013 10:44:42 AM
If you told me you were sick for 3 years, and was now cleared to work. I would automatically jump in my mind to cancer. I'd consider you a risk because I'd be wondering if your cancer would come back. That might not be right or appropriate, but it's the truth.

If you told me you took time away from work to be with your family, then that wouldn't bother me a bit.

JMO.


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Posted: 3/6/2013 11:38:06 AM

"I was ill for 3 years. It took some time for doctors to correctly diagnose and treat me but I'm now healthy and ready to return to work."


This is the answer I would most like to hear if I were doing the hiring.

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Posted: 3/6/2013 12:08:56 PM
How was the interview?


creativechicky
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Posted: 3/6/2013 12:24:02 PM

How was the interview?



My interview is in 3 1/2 hours. I will come back and let you guys know how it went =)

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Posted: 3/6/2013 1:02:38 PM
I cant believe someone would consider someone who beat cancer a liability. Wow!

OP I had an undiagnosed sinus infection for 3 months which then wreaked havoc with my digestive system and then my lungs and created a horrible crazy 12 month cycle of crazy sickness.

I understand the undiagnosed thing and am thankful you are now better

Good luck



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Posted: 3/6/2013 1:09:38 PM


I cant believe someone would consider someone who beat cancer a liability. Wow!

Actually that was one of the situations I was thinking about when I wrote my post above. We were interviewing for a position and the candidate had a gap in her employment history and volunteered that it was due to her treatment for breast cancer. She shared that she had been cancer free for 5 years. After she left, the HR person in c charge said, "Well, cross her off the list. I don't want to deal with anyone whose had cancer -- she'll raise our health insurance costs even if the cancer doesn't come back. And if it does come back, we'll be screwed because she'll need time off and our work still has to get done, cancer or not."

What I've learned over the years is that most employers would gladly replace us with Cybermen if they could.

creativechicky
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Posted: 3/6/2013 1:48:49 PM

Actually that was one of the situations I was thinking about when I wrote my post above. We were interviewing for a position and the candidate had a gap in her employment history and volunteered that it was due to her treatment for breast cancer. She shared that she had been cancer free for 5 years. After she left, the HR person in c charge said, "Well, cross her off the list. I don't want to deal with anyone whose had cancer -- she'll raise our health insurance costs even if the cancer doesn't come back. And if it does come back, we'll be screwed because she'll need time off and our work still has to get done, cancer or not."



Very sad =(

LLinIN
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Posted: 3/6/2013 1:55:35 PM
I wasn't questioning you at all. I just wanted to show how someone who was looking to pick your response apart would do it. Glad you feel better, good luck at your interview.

molove
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Posted: 3/6/2013 2:41:13 PM
Good luck! Remember--you are interviewing THEM as much as they are you. You need to see if that job will work into YOUR life.

I agree, tell the truth. If you tell a white lie, embellish or minimize it and they find out it'll be much worse trying to explain. You probably won't get the chance to explain. They will move on to another candidate.

All that said, I think you ask a really valid question. You are in a bind. You know that employers see flashing, red light DRAMA with "health issues" and FMLA. They just do.

Just count on your great skills/education/personality to shine. People will hire the right person for the right position. If you are fit, you fit and that's the best for both of you.

They may not even ask. Sometimes the other pieces of your resume are what they are interested in, not the gap.

creativechicky
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Posted: 3/14/2013 7:47:11 PM
Yeah, I got the job!!!

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Posted: 3/14/2013 7:51:46 PM
Congratulations!!

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Posted: 3/14/2013 8:41:20 PM
Congratulations on your new job!

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Posted: 3/14/2013 8:48:07 PM
Woo Hoo!!!!!!! Congrats!!


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Posted: 3/15/2013 12:47:19 AM
Excellent.

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Posted: 3/15/2013 7:48:02 AM
That's great!

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Posted: 3/15/2013 8:00:21 AM
Congratulations!


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Yeah! Congratulations on the new job!!



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Posted: 3/15/2013 9:07:14 AM
Congrats!!!!


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Posted: 3/15/2013 9:20:29 AM
Congratulations!



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Posted: 3/15/2013 9:47:40 AM
Fantastic!!!!

Congratulations

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Posted: 3/15/2013 9:51:56 AM
Bravo!


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