Should I Be Upfront About My Medical Conditions To Hiring Managers?

Dear J.T. & Dale: I received my bachelor’s degree in accounting last summer. However, because of medical issues, I have not started working. I have not bounced back physically, and therefore, I need part-time work. I would like to be upfront with employers, especially because my frequent doctor’s appointments require flexibility, but I also worry about scaring off employers. When should I bring it up? — Elisabeth

Dale: I think you are right to worry about scaring off employers — most would say, “Hey I’m hiring someone to help ME with MY problems, not the other way around.” So the issue is how to get employers to see you as offering solutions to their problems.

J.T.: I’d suggest that you start by networking with friends and family. Ask if they know of any part-time work with someone who might be able to employ your skills at a bargain rate in exchange for giving you flexibility. This trade-off can open doors for you. Then, once you’re in and invaluable, you’ll be able to ask for a raise.

Dale: Yes, you can sell yourself as a bargain. Or, you could sidestep the health issue by selling yourself as a freelancer. There are plenty of small-business owners who need help with bookkeeping/accounting and who would be happy to have you come in on your schedule. You might even find some with work you could pick up and take home, creating complete flexibility.

J.T.: The important thing is to take the initiative in figuring out how you can make a contribution. Do that, and you’ll always find work.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of Dale Dauten’s latest book is “(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success” (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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