Skip to main content

What Are Your Skills?

Identify and leverage your skills for your career as a cancer survivor. 

Everyone is good at something (we happen to be good at surviving cancer - knock on wood - and knowing every day is a gift). Most people are too modest to promote and leverage what they are good at OR they are too full of self doubt to admit they have a skill at all.

Consider your skills as the things that come “easy” to you or what have you worked hard at to be able to do it “easily”. I understand if you doubt these skills given the trauma your body and mind has gone through - I get that so much. Have some faith in your abilities and think about 6 months after treatment or 2 years after treatment or if you are going to be in treatment for the duration of your life then just think about what you LOVE to do and see if those skills tie in to some work-related items. (Remember to always get your medical team's approval about working.) 

List at least 3-5 skills that you have – this is not the skills section of your resume which should be full of actionable skills such as your computer, social media, technical skills – this is instead the things that should be DEMONSTRATED on your resume – so if you are a great project manager, you would have things on your resume demonstrating your prowess as a project manager (such as key accomplishments in successful projects you have run,etc).

What skills should you be demonstrating on your resume? What skills should jump off the page by reading your job descriptions and accomplishments?

Skills for you to print and fill out - just 5 to ease into it but if you have more than 5, write away!

  1. _______________________________________________
  2. _______________________________________________
  3. _______________________________________________
  4. _______________________________________________
  5. _______________________________________________

Now look at your resume; do those skills jump out at you through the page? Underline or highlight the pieces of your resume that map back to these skills – are there skills not showing through on the resume? How can you address that?

What about your LinkedIn profile? Can it be understood by your profile that you have these skills? If not, how can you make these skills “pop” via your descriptive content about who you are and what you bring to the table.

Get comfortable promoting yourself because if you do not do it, no one else will. Get comfortable highlighting the skills you have for your career after cancer.

In case you wanted to know, mine are:

  1. Writing
  2. Presenting
  3. Teaching
  4. Project Management
  5. Entrepreneurship

If you like this article, check out for more information and resources for getting back to normal after cancer.

Follow us on Twitter @balancecancer or Instagram @balance_after_cancer or by clicking here.

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


Popular posts from this blog

You Got Cancer & Now You Are Laid Off...

Many cancer patients and survivors are laid off (or fired). This post is not about the legality of said employer decision but instead about how to manage being laid off and how to consider getting back to work, if and when you are able to do so. Always check with your doctor regarding whether you are fit for work.

One of the main differences between being fired and laid off is just the wording and in what it means for you to look for a new role. No matter what, though, it results in the loss of your job and for us who have already lost so much during this life changing diagnosis, this is just what can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

You go from being employed and for most of us that means having a purpose and a routine to losing that footing in the world which makes recovery and our sense of selves suffer. It is a challenge to "bounce back" from cancer and now you need to find a job. To deal with a layoff and cancer treatment, it is important to be flexible.

Now …

Bouncing Back After Cancer

Plan B's
One big lesson we learn as cancer patients is to always have a Plan B and to try not to sweat the small stuff. "Small stuff" includes managing our career however, we also like to eat and need to have health insurance and be busy to not think too much about mortality and so on and so forth. Whether we lose our jobs or take time off or realize our careers are not fulfilling or cause us too much stress to continue, we do need to think about how we can "bounce back" in our careers. Some ways to bounce back include: Learning a new skill or expanding on a current skill: Keeping our minds active in any way shape or form is important during and after a cancer diagnosis. Be kind to yourself and do not expect yourself to be exactly what you were before - know that your brain and body has been through a lot and adjust your expectations accordingly.Get help from friends and family to review your resume and let you if you can improve it; ask them to submit your resume …

Working After a Cancer Diagnosis - On Treatments, Follow Ups and Finding Meaningful Work Again

Getting back to work after dealing with a cancer diagnosis and all that entails presents two issues:1-and most important is being well enough to work and mentally able to focus on the tasks at hand - the last thing we feel ready to do during cancer is to find a new job but unfortunately, for many of us, it is just what we have to do full stop. Despite needing to take a year or more to get through treatment (hopefully as some of us are in treatment for the rest of our lives) we also need to get ourselves out there to do the things EVERYONE dreads to do regardless of their health status - INTERVIEWING and NETWORKING and all of the things that used to make our hearts go bump in the night but now we know are just means to an end. We need to eat, so we need to work We need to stop thinking about cancer, so we need to work… and herein lies issue number... 2 - we now are trying to put cancer behind us (if we are lucky enough to not be stage 4) yet now we have these pesky follow up appointmen…