A cancer diagnosis may mean some people reconsider their career goals and work values, and they may decide changing jobs is an opportunity for a fresh start. For some people, returning to the same job may not be possible due to changes in ability or length of time away. The desire to reduce work-related stress or seek more meaningful work may be a motivating factor to change jobs.
Before looking for a new position you may want to consider the following:
You may also want to consider different ways of working, i.e. job sharing, volunteering, self-employment, part-time or agency work.
You may find it valuable to discuss your options with colleagues and referees who are familiar with your work and can be honest about your skills. A career counsellor can help guide you through these decisions. You could talk to Cancer Council’s Small Business Advisory Service (not available in all states). People with a disability can find an advisory service at www.jobaccess.gov.au.
New employers do not need to know about your diagnosis or treatment unless it may impact on your ability to do the job.
There will probably be a gap in your resume (CV) if you did not work during cancer treatment. It’s common for people to have breaks in their employment history because of travel, having children or other personal reasons, so the employer may not ask about it.
Your employer does not need to know details about your personal life unless it is relevant to the job.
A prospective employer can ask you about your ability to perform tasks that are an essential part of the job, e.g. if you can lift heavy boxes. These are called the inherent requirements of the job. If this is a problem for you because of the cancer or treatment, you need to mention it at the interview.
You cannot be refused a job on the basis of cancer or treatment. This right is protected by law. Anyone who has had cancer is protected by the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Fair Work Act 2009, and their own state or territory human rights or equal opportunity laws.
These laws apply to the selection and appointment process for a new job. They also prevent employers from directly or indirectly discriminating against people with disabilities in the workplace.