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Rewriting your resumé after a long illness

Has extended sick leave left a gap in your resumé? Since illness does nothing to advance your application, you’re better off keeping it under wraps.

Regardless of what illness you have overcome, a long sick leave is best left unmentioned in your resumé and cover letter. “This kind of information scares employers,” explains Melanie Paquette, an employment counsellor at Brisson Legris, Unveiling Potentials. “People may be afraid that you’ll have a relapse, and your resumé gets tossed aside.”

This advice is especially true for highly competitive fields, like sales and advertising. “Bosses seem to especially have trouble accepting time off because of burn outs. They worry that people who have suffered from professional exhaustion will be unable to deal with stress and will get sick again. That’s why you should write a resumé that focuses on your career history, your accomplishments and your energy,” advises Mrs. Paquet.

At the interview

It’s always easier to talk about your sick leave during the interview than in your resumé. Explain that you were away for health reasons, but leave out the details. “Let them know that you’ve had a full recovery and are ready to take on new challenges,” says Mrs. Paquet.

If you’ve read articles or taken courses to keep up on trends in your field, be sure to mention it. This kind of initiative proves to employers that you have prepared yourself well for going back to work.

If you took a stress leave, explain that you used the time off to reflect on the situation and define your personal limits.

What goes into the resumé?

You resumé should:

  • Give an honest overview of your experience and skills.
  • Be easy to understand (avoid obscure jargon and abbreviations).
  • Be clear and precise.
  • Be concise (2 to 3 pages).
  • Be clean and free of spelling errors.
  • Have a good lay out.
  • Target a specific job and be adapted to suit the position you are applying for.
  • Be simple (unless you are looking for a creative job).
  • Be accompanied with a cover letter.

Source: Brisson Legris, Unveiling Potentials.