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Why You Should Hire That Job Applicant With an Invisible Illness

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So an applicant just disclosed that they have an invisible illness. What do you do? Personally I say hire them! I have several invisible illnesses, including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 3 and lupus. So what does an employee with illnesses such as mine bring to the workplace?

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

First, let me tell you what it does not bring. People with chronic illnesses and disabilities who work are not quitters. Why? Most of us go years without a diagnosis, or worse, get labeled a hypochondriac. We will go through denials and push past them to research on our own to find possible reasons why we do not feel well. How does this translate to the workplace? Determination! We can be much more determined than your average employee. We go above and beyond to prove our worth to the organization. We are used to advocating for ourselves and family members, and we will advocate for you. We find solutions to problems most have given up on, and can be very creative with the proposed solution. We will not accept rejection or defeat.

Second, we are not lazy! Yes, some days may be rough for us, but many of us are determined to prove that our illness will not defeat us. We will find a way to accomplish a task in the most efficient manner.

Now for some reasons to hire someone with an invisible illness. We are dependable. If a flare hits we may have to modify how we work or take a few extra breaks, but this will not offset the work accomplished on our good to best days. Allowing modifications such as fans, ice packs and even aromatherapy can help negate some of the stressors that can cause flare-ups.

During our good days, you will have someone who shows up early and stays late to complete work by and before deadlines. Most of us will come in to work until a flare forces us to take downtime to recover. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of us with an invisible illness are not prone to more sick time than the average employee. Often we will still come in when we are not feeling well, and use our sick and vacation time for flare-ups that are not manageable.

Chronically ill employees usually communicate very well within their departments. We are used to having to coordinate our care between our primary providers and specialists. We take lots of notes and refer back to them, and we often have a system to stay on top of all of our information.

If given the chance, people with invisible illnesses can be among your most loyal and dedicated employees. We want to work and prove we are useful members of society, and we appreciate the opportunity to shine. Taking a chance on that prospective employee could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Let us take on the challenge, and see what you can learn about perseverance and dedication from your new hire.

Thinkstock photo by Creatas.

Originally published: August 1, 2017
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