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Resume Writing Tips for Cancer Survivors

The best way to find a job, of course, is by networking in person or through LinkedIn but no matter how great you are at relationship skills and self promotion for your career after cancer, you will still be asked for your resume.
A resume is an interesting piece of paper - but it is JUST a piece of paper. We are very attached to these pieces of paper but oftentimes they are out of date or unprofessional looking and that does not best highlight the jobseeker.

If your resume is not on point, it will be hard for you to move forward to the interviewing/job offer stage unless you are brought in based on the LinkedIn profile alone (which does sometimes happen) – even still, during the interview, people like to hold and read your resume. So all of these tactics do not matter if your resume is not as good as it could be. And this is all subjective but there are certain rules that apply to ALL resumes and especially for us working on our careers after cancer.
Your resume has to reflect your skills and talents and give your networking partners something to share and use to promote you. Here are my quick must haves on a resume:

  1. Summary section – This is the most important information about what makes you YOU that should be highlighted in bullet format right at the top of your resume. Why? Because people do not always read a whole document particularly if you are multiple pages in your resume (Note: Your resume should be no more than 2 pages) – you need to highlight the most important things about you right at the top.
  2. Great descriptors -  The essence of who you are that is highlighted in your summary should be solidified throughout your job descriptions. Remember the Skills Mapping exercise shared here - that should be what you use to pepper in to your skills and your job experience section. Try to have the words that are in the job description you like in your resume as these are the "buzz" or "key" words to get your through the screening process.
  3. Clean lines and professional email address – If you have a Hotmail email account, I am going to think you time traveled from 1999 to today. It should be your first name and last name at gmail with some tweaks, as needed if you have a common name.
  4. Include volunteering experience or a placeholder for "special projects" if you have a chronological "blank space" on your resume.
  5. Remember the resume is just a piece of paper but it is important for your career after cancer to have the best one possible to get to the interview - check this space for some insights on how to interview for your career after dealing with a serious health issue.

If you like this article, check out for more information and resources for your career after cancer.
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Disclaimer: Writer of this article makes no guarantees about the content and everything should be cleared with you medical team and doctors. The information provided in this article is written by the writer for general information and the information should not be used without consulting with your own medical / legal team. This information is strictly for educational purposes and the author is not responsible for the outcomes if you follow aforementioned advice of the author. 

Lisa Vento Nielsen, MBA, PMP is an author, speaker, cancer survivor and career expert. She lost her job during treatment and founded a nonprofit focused on helping people who have been diagnosed with cancer (and their families) find meaningful work. Cancer takes a toll on your whole life and the lives of those in your family - working is a big part of getting back to "normal" after going through a cancer diagnosis. Survivorship is all that comes after diagnosis and it needed more resources so Lisa and her team created them. Find out more at


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