Thursday, May 10, 2012

Had Cancer but Will Work

"Concealing an illness is like keeping a beach ball under water." Karen Duffy

So today´s topic pertains to my re-entry into the working world which has not been without its share of challenges. Now I have written previously about how alot of things have came fairly easily to me in my life (I am not trying to sound arrogant here people but I was one of the lucky ones). I got my dream job out of university, I progressed steadily then when I ran across the pond to London, one month to the day I arrived, I had a job. And all of these jobs were well paid and pretty challenging. I did have some help getting my foot in the door but isnt the job market all about who you know? I should know as I worked in the business of finding people their next job for many years. I am not naive, I know how it works. You need to stand out, you need a flawless CV and you need people who will serve as your advocates. It isnt so much about sending off a CV into the black hole of the internet (or god forbid a fax!) but now with the economy the way it is, you need to do more. I am realising exactly how much more you need to do to get noticed. Fluency in Norwegian would be a good start!

I have not expected this process to be easy but it is so frustrating when I see an amazing job and then find out that because my Norwegian isnt perfect, I am not even considered. Of course I fully recognise that I am indeed living in Norway and the primary language is Norwegian! However I have worked very diligently at learning the language in order to understand my daughter (an essential skill I think!) and to land a good job. I remember a year or so ago when after months of searching, I finally was offered a job. I also remember how that same morning I sent an email telling them I was keen to take it, I also heard that I had cancer. The cancer kinda cancelled the whole new job thingo out and here we are again - 14 months on in the same place. But now I have another year of limbo stuck onto my CV and explaining "this gap" can be tough. How do I handle discussing my elusive absence? Do I get creative and say I was off building schools in Africa? Or that I was marooned on an island writing my first novel? The first year is easy as I was off having a baby as so many women do. But then do I deliberately remain vague about what followed after? Do I just say I was ill but better now? Or do I just tell them the whole truth? I do want to be totally open but think at the first juncture it might be a case of TMI. Case in point - I got an email from a headhunter last week telling me she had seen my profile on Linkedin and had the perfect role for me. I of course was very excited and asked her to call me. She did call and I deliberately spoke over the phone in Norwegian (which is way harder then face to face!) in order to show I was dedicated to learning the language. Well the call was brief to say the least. Her first and only question was "What have you been doing the last 2 years?" Hmmm...what shall I say? I blurted out that I had first taken a year of maternity leave and then I told her I had been sick but was 100% healthy now. The phone call ended 10 seconds later. I was so angry after it. I was so angry that I felt like I wanted to email her boss and tell him how i was treated by one of his consultants and offer up some "constructive criticism." But I didnt and just swallowed my bitter pill. Being treated like that was one of the things I had been so afraid after being branded by the Big C. I didnt want to be viewed as weaker or as a liability. I wanted to be recognised for my achievements, for my strong personality and for all the things that lay across the pages of my CV.

After a few days of stewing, I picked myself back up and jumped back into the job pool. Thankfully I have some great lifeguards keeping an eye on me and offering up boatloads of advice and help for which I am eternally grateful. I have a better perspective on things now. I dont want that woman to define what I am and what I am worth. Only I can do that. And if that was her way of working then I am lucky I didnt end up having her represent me. I firmly believe that the right job, the right company and the right opportunity will come along. I just need to learn to be alittle more patient (insert image of Axl Rose here!). Someone will see and value all that i have been through (scars and all!) and actually see it as a huge asset to the employee I can become. So in the meantime I will allow my body to rest, keep doing what I am doing and be hopeful that it will all work in the end.



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