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Really in need of direction here...

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mtlieb Find out more about mtlieb
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  • Really in need of direction here...

    Hi all,

    Finding a job with HCM has been tough, and i sure could use some advice from anyone who has any to give. I'm not depressed (yet), just a little lost, and i figured nobody can understand this better than my fellow hcm'ers.

    No employer seems to want to hire someone who lost his last job due to health problems, and i can't say i really blame them. Since my employer fought my unemployment (they just didn't buy this whole 'hcm' thing) god only knows what they are telling people when they call for references. And no employer wants to hear about things that you 'can't do' in a job interview, as the HCM issue inevitably comes up. I've had to admit finally that my career in archaeology is just plain over, forever. I only ever wanted to do it if i could do the outdoor work, and i can't do the heavy labor anymore for 8 to 10 hours a day. But i'm not really skilled or educated in anything else, at least not enough to land a job.

    The OVR office called me several weeks ago (finally... i filled out those applications months ago) and told me that i do qualify for retraining, which may include technical or graduate school. This would mean starting all over again, at 40, which is kinda scary. It also means being somewhat dependent on my family for a while, which no 40 yo wants to do.

    But going back to school does have it's advantages... health insurance (which is a biggie), help from the OVR with housing, and also some federal and state grants and low-interest loans to help pay for it as well. Going back to school also gives me a chance to rebuild things from scratch, as an HCM'er this time, if that makes any sense at all.

    The OVR took their time letting me know about all this. It's really late in the year to get into any kind of degree program now. Also, as soon as i accept a job offer, any job offer, it all goes away. No more OVR. But as soon as i sign up with the OVR, my unemployment goes away since i won't actively be seeking work.

    I need to make a decision, and fast, and my brain feels like it's going to explode!

    Any ideas or similar situations anyone has been in?

    Jim
    "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

  • #2
    Re: Really in need of direction here...

    Jim, I have no advice. I just want to say that I wish you luck and hope that you can feel somewhat settled again soon.

    Reenie
    Reenie

    ****************
    Husband has HCM.
    3 kids - ages 23, 21, & 19. All presently clear of HCM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Really in need of direction here...

      A few items I will address..not just for Jim but some general issues.

      Now remember I am a human resouce manager in my "other" life
      and thereby clearly understand BOTH sides of the interview game. Now I have to make the assumption that employers you are all dealing with are going to comply with US law (those out of the USA it is a different story so you may need to disregard most of this posting..sorry).

      1. What information MUST you give on the interview?
      You MUST be given clear and specific information on the specify physical requirements of the job - the ONLY question they can as you is "Can you do these functions with or without accommodations" You answer YES or NO. If you answer NO... you likely have not thought out this question... YOu should always answer YES. WHY? the courts have found that a companies attempts to make "reasonable accommodations" is far reaching..more so then most people think.
      Here is one example - TRUE story - a man works in an office as an examiner of contracts, he is in a typical "cubical", he suffers from a nervous condition and MUST have complete quite in order for him to do his job. His work is of average or better quality and his ONLY mistakes are at times the office is loud. He asks for an accommodation, due to his disability - a private office that is far from the chatter of the office - the company said NO. The company felt that No other person in his type of work had a private office so he would not get on... This was a costly mistake for the company - they were ordered by the court to reinstate the man with back pay, damages and to provide a work place that offered a reasonable accommodation.

      Other cases are more simple -those who have an inability to do a portion of the job may have to be creative and work with the employer to find alternative ways to get the job done. They may include, office on the 1st floor if there is no elevator..and the job is on the 2-3rd floor, having someone else Lift items in the event that lifting is only a "part" of the job.
      Companies may be required to even hire an assistant to help YOU do your job IF you are capable of doing the larger part yourself. It is more likely then not that an employer will have to work with you to get the job done.

      So here is the real world questions for a job that is in a retail environment simply as an example.. the interviewer says to you "do you think you can do the job?" Your reply should be " can you tell me exactly what the job requires, physically?" the interviewer " you need to walk around the store, move items and help customers to the cashier for check out" - you reply "Can you tell me how much lifting and how much weight"
      Interviewer ..." About 20-30 pounds for a few times per day"... you reply with the knowledge of the law (the American with Disabilities Act) and say "Yes, I can"... You say this knowing that if you run into trouble that you can fall back on the law that says if you provide proof from your doctor that you can seek a reasonable accommodation, which may mean something as simple as getting a cart to help the customers or have someone else actually carry the product.

      DO not TELL ANYONE on an interview EVER that you have ANY medical issues... they can NOT ASK and you are not bound by any law to answer if they do. Frankly if they as your next call is to the Div. of Civil Rights and file a complaint... and they will end up oweing you more then the job...but likley damages in the sum of serious cash!

      2. Apply for positions YOU feel you can do... Do not look for a bumpy road ahead.
      In Jims case it may well be hard to continue in his line of work, fo retraining is needed. Look at fields that are well suited to your health. There are MANY jobs we can do and only a few we can not in nearly all cases of those with HCM.
      Example - NASA is not interested in any of us to go up in the next shuttle.. however they may be interested in us doing computer programming, design, office functions or other jobs.
      Find something YOU like...find something you are good at and find something that is marketable...sometimes we have to give one of those 3 key areas up... Being marketable is important - being good at what you do is important - it is the doing something we LIKE that can trip us up in many cases...so just do your best

      It is getting late and this post is way to long as is! I will hit this topic more later
      Good night
      Lisa
      Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
      YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

      Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
      lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
      Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
      Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
      Currently not obstructed
      Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Really in need of direction here...

        Okay, either i'm really really tired or Lisa just told me to get a job in retail rather than go back to school. I'll have to re-read this in the morning
        "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Really in need of direction here...

          Hi,
          I can't really give you any answer to your question but I can give you my thoughts. I don't feel 40 is too old to be retrained. I think that starting a new career could be fun and exciting in some ways. Sure it can be scarey with the finances and all, but maybe you could get a partial disability while you are doing your re-training. I think that you have to have your heart and head into any venture that you decide to do. Most of all make sure you include your family in the decision. You might be thinking they will do without but most families are willing to do this for someone they love.
          Life is too short to worry about the trival things in life, So live life to the fullest.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Really in need of direction here...

            Jim, I think Lisa used retailing as an example for ways an employer may have to accomidate you, not as a job you might apply for. Have you thought about a university setting? There must be a few places you would be valuable with your years of experience. Good luck - Linda

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Really in need of direction here...

              Jim, slightly off topic, but 40 isn't too late to start over. My husband is retiring in a few months from the military. He'll be 39. That means he's literally starting over again. Not too old, I tell ya.

              Reenie
              Reenie

              ****************
              Husband has HCM.
              3 kids - ages 23, 21, & 19. All presently clear of HCM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Really in need of direction here...

                Thanks everybody, i appreciate your advice...

                As usual you all make a lot of sense, and Lisa, what a lot of great info! Especially now that i'm awake and understand all of it!

                Couple of things...

                Most of the jobs i've applied for have never gotten past the application phase... Question on application: Reason for leaving last job? Bang! It's dead right there. There's no way around it, i have to say it was for health reasons otherwise i'm lying on my application. My former employer is going to say it even if i don't, right?

                Let's say i get to an interview and i'm asked about why i left my last job... Again, don't i have to say it was for health reasons? I do think an employer has the right to know what that's all about. Maybe he thinks i'm just one of these people who calls in sick all the time. If i just leave it at 'health reasons' and don't elaborate, you can bet that's what he's going to think. So out comes the HCM discussion... blah blah blah.

                No employer's going to call me up and tell me i didn't get the job i applied for because of my HCM. What happens is... you just never hear from them again, and i really don't have the time or energy to track them all down and find out who they hired instead. I myself have helped do a lot of hiring at former jobs. When going through a couple hundred applications, the first thing you do is sort out the obvious no's from the potential yes's right away. Reason for leaving last job is an important factor, and 'personality conflicts' and 'health issues' were always automatic no-hires. Those went right into the garbage. That's just how it works in the real world.

                When faced with two potential employees, both equally qualified by education and experience... one guy left his last job due to health reasons and has this 'heart disease' you've never even heard of... the other guy just ran in the Boston Marathon, and never had a sick day in his life... honestly, which one would you choose? I know which one I would!

                Just a few things i've been thinking

                Jim
                "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Really in need of direction here...

                  Lets be a little creative here... NEVER tell a lie on a job application BUT you are not required to give a potential employer information about your health... Some suggested answers for the reason you left COULD be... "working conditions" and a simple explaination on interview that the work envrionment was a problem and the employer was unable to make any changes so it was best to part company... OR "Personal" and explain on interview that you asked for an accomidation and the employer was not willing to provide it and you left on good terms. OR "looking for a better opportunity" which is not a lie... you had to seek a better situation for yourself... so it is honest. From what I recall your work hours were a little funny with that job and there were no benefits you can also say something like "no advancement" or "no benefits" and explain that you seek stability and need to find a good company that takes care of its workers.

                  If you are not getting the interviews DO NOT assume that it is because of your reason for leaving or your education... it may be something else.. it may not even have to do with you.
                  A little story - about 10 years ago I had to fire a guy for serious violations of company policy - he was making rude comments to female co-workers and also had a history of being abusive to male co-worker. About a year later he called me and was very angry and asked what I have been saying about him when people called for a reference - because he could not get a job... I had to laugh at this because I had not received 1 call about him! I ws clear that I had no clue and that he may wish to revise his resume as I had not receive any calls!

                  Have a friend read your resume and cover letter. You may be setting yourself up for rejection in the manner you are presenting yourself... and not even know it. Sometimes we can get caught up in "our world" and forget about other views on employment. Your resume may be VERY geared toward your field and you may not be explaining skills you have that cross occupations.

                  Jim in your case, many of us on the board can see some of your skills... You are a good researcher, have good written communication skills and also have skills in other areas. USE these and make sure they are clear on a resume! Do not assume that going back to school will get you the job of your dreams...it may help BUT is not a sure thing. You must be creative and honest with yourself.

                  I hope this helps...

                  Lisa

                  I love my job in HR because I work with my employees to find those special skills in themselves and develope them. Some are hidden from you and you must trust in others to help you see them.
                  Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
                  YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

                  Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
                  lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
                  Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
                  Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
                  Currently not obstructed
                  Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    a suggestion about jobs

                    I used to be a terrible job interviewee.

                    Then I read a book that I highly recommend ---

                    Anthony Medley's Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed

                    I began practicing for job interviews with a tape recorder. I would ask myself the toughest questions I could and practiced giving short glib truthful answers in 30 seconds or less.

                    For one job I really wanted, I researched the interviewer, and read the dissertation he had written. I waited for a pause in the interview. I asked him a question about the dissertation. He was floored, and asked why I had done that. I told him that I was selling myself as a creative researcher, and I wanted him to know I was a creative researcher. I got an offer.

                    Being a good interviewee is a learned skill. You can learn it. If I can learn it, anyone can.

                    What kind of job do you want? What would be your dream job?

                    There are tremendous resources here ont he board that can, and will, assist.

                    Good luck.

                    Lee
                    [email protected]

                    Detroit, Michigan
                    Proud father of Andy, Meaghan, and Sean

                    medical research:
                    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed

                    www.vivisimo.com

                    Laugh:
                    http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/top_ten/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Really in need of direction here...

                      Back to school... woo hoo!

                      I just received my letter of acceptance to graduate school yesterday and the OVR has agreed to help fund that. They normally dont assist in post-graduate work, however, my bachelors degree is twenty years old now and no longer applies to my current job situation. I do not feel the slightest bit bad about accepting help through the OVR, as i have spent the past seven months now pounding the pavement and feel that i have more than adequately exhausted all of my job leads. I'll still have to utilize low-interest federal loans for housing, etc. but heck, i've almost been dead a few times now, what are a few loans at this point?

                      I am excited about school (but also a bit nervous) and my master's degree will be in a field that will incorporate my archaeology and mapping expertise and experience, yet moves me into a more computer-oriented office-type position... GIS/Cartography. Most archaeology firms are now hiring GIS specialists. I should have no problem finding work, and i'll still get to hang around with the scruffy archaeologist gang and get out into the field every now and again, but in a much less physically demanding role. And in two years when i complete the program, i believe that i will have an opportunity for a fresh start, and put all of the past employment issues behind me.

                      Not to mention that getting my master's degree in itself will be an achievement i can be proud of, and a much-needed boost to my self-confidence.

                      Thanks for all your support

                      Jim
                      "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Really in need of direction here...

                        CONGRATULATIONS JIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                        What a good day and a wonderful new chapter in your life!
                        Good luck on the road to your masters!


                        Lisa
                        Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
                        YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

                        Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
                        lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
                        Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
                        Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
                        Currently not obstructed
                        Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Really in need of direction here...

                          Wow... thanks Lisa!

                          I think the best thing about all of this is finally having some direction. At least for the next two years, i know where i am going to be, what i am doing, what is expected of me, and that there are opportunities waiting for me when i graduate. That feels pretty good right now. Not to mention the fact that this option comes with health insurance, which alone pays for the money i have to borrow from the feds. Right now it feels like a win/win situation

                          Thanks again to everybody for letting me do my rambling here!

                          Jim
                          "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Really in need of direction here...

                            Jim,

                            Did you recently move? I thought you were in Montana. I see now you are in Penn.

                            Incidentally, in case you missed my post, I finally got the surgery. We have couple we visit in Allentown on occasion, are you near there?

                            Doug
                            NEMC's (Boston) First Myectomy 7-22-2003

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Really in need of direction here...

                              Thanks Doug,

                              Over the past several months, i have been in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho looking for work... and now i am back in PA for school. Yikes! Sometimes i have no idea where i live. LOL. Congrats on your successful myectomy! I'm in southwest PA, which is on the complete opposite end of the state from Allentown.

                              You take care of yourself buddy, and please, continue to keep us updated on your situation

                              Jim
                              "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

                              Comment

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