‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com. Dear J.T. & Dale: I'd like to piggyback on a question posed by another reader. Two years ago I left a position because I had seizures. I was in and out of the hospital until I had brain surgery. Now I am seizure-free, but I have a two-year gap in my work history. I feel uncomfortable telling people about my medical issues, but I don't want to lie. Any pointers? — Mimi J.T.: One way or another, they are going to want to understand what you did in those two years. So, if you did any volunteering in that time, took classes or did freelancing, you might consider listing those to fill the gap. Dale: Or, you could see if you can get comfortable talking about your experiences. I know, I know ... it's none of their business. However, J.T.'s right: They are going to wonder, and it's wise to assume that hiring managers think it's wise to assume the worst. J.T.: You actually could put a positive spin on the experience, saying: "I'm glad you asked. It's actually an interesting story. I was experiencing seizures and had to have surgery, which successfully stopped them. I wasn't able to work during that time, but it was a huge learning opportunity, and I'm relieved to have it behind me, because I hated not working." It comes down to the way you present it. If you hesitate or act nervous, they'll worry that you are hiding something. But proudly share what made you stronger and better, and employers will admire you. Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, jtodonnell.com, and of the blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. Please visit them at jtanddale.com, 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. © 2010 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
April 17, 2010