Crohn’s disease is a common inflammatory bowel disease, causing symptoms like frequent diarrhoea, cramping, abdominal pain and fatigue.
Managing Crohn’s disease while looking for work can be challenging at times, but with the right support it’s possible to find meaningful work where you can thrive.
Workplace adjustments and flexible work arrangements can make it easier to stay on top of your health while working towards your employment goals.
Here are 5 steps to finding a job with Crohn’s disease and succeeding in the workplace.
1. Identify what you want in a job
Living with Crohn’s disease shouldn’t limit your job or career options, but there might be some types of jobs and work environments that are better suited to your needs.
Consider your strengths, interests and skills when looking for work, and also factor in your needs and challenges.
Although it’s different for everyone, the best jobs for someone with Crohn’s disease tend to be flexible and low-stress.
When thinking about workplaces that are right for you, consider if you’ll need quick access to bathroom facilities or the ability to take time off when you need to.
For some people, managing a traditional 9 to 5 role is challenging.
Flexible alternatives such as working from home, part time work or working for yourself may make it easier to manage your health and continue working.
If you’re not sure what types of jobs are right for you, talking with an employment consultant can help.
An employment consultant can also help you plan your next career steps, develop your job search skills and build your confidence.
2. Tailor your resume
Your resume and cover letter are often the first impression a potential employer has of you, so it’s worth doing them well.
Instead of submitting a generic resume to all the jobs you apply for, it’s best to tailor your resume and cover letter for the specific job and employer.
Look at the job advertisement for keywords, skills and values that the employer is looking for in a candidate.
If you’ve had to take time off from work for your health in the past, you may have gaps on your resume.
While it’s important to be honest with a potential employer, you don’t need to go into any personal details unless it will affect your ability to complete the tasks in the job you are applying for.
Instead, focus on the strengths, skills and qualities that make you a great candidate for the job.
Be sure to include any relevant work experience, training or education you did in your time off work.
3. Prepare for job interviews
Job interviews can be daunting, but preparation and practice can help you feel more confident.
Before you go to the interview, practice answering common interview questions with a friend or family member, and do some research about the organisation you’re applying for.
Don’t forget to dress appropriately and arrive early to make a good impression.
In general, you don’t have to tell a potential employer about your condition unless it affects your ability to perform the essential tasks of the job.
However, some people find that being upfront from the beginning allows them to get the right support from day one in their new job.
If you’re not sure how much to say, you can get support from an employment consultant or lawyer.
4. Ask for accommodations
Even small changes in the workplace can make a big difference when it comes to feeling confident, safe and supported in your new role.
Australian employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for employees to do their job safely and properly, and may be eligible for funding for some types of adjustments.
Accommodations are unique to your needs in the workplace.
They could include changes to your work schedule, job responsibilities or physical work space.
Examples of workplace accommodations include:
- Flexible start and finish times
- Time off work for health appointments
- Positioning your work station close to bathroom facilities
- Working from home
- Reassigning tasks you find challenging to someone else
- Part time work
5. Get support
Finding the right job can take time, and it’s important to get support along the way.
If Crohn’s symptoms are making it hard to find work or hold down a job, you could be eligible for support through Disability Employment Services.
Disability Employment Services is a government funded program that supports people living with injury, illness or disability to find and keep a job.
A provider in your area can help with career planning, finding suitable job opportunities, work experience, writing your resume and preparing for interviews.
Once in your new role, your provider can also help you access any workplace accommodations and ongoing support you might need.
If you’re not eligible for Disability Employment Services, you can get support through Workforce Australia.
Workforce Australia is for all Australians. You can use the online portal to find information, guides and resources, or you can request tailored support from a provider in your area.
Succeeding at work with Crohn’sWhile Crohn’s symptoms can present challenges at work, it’s possible to have a meaningful and successful work life while managing your health.
If you want to work, but are having trouble finding a job that’s right for you, it’s important to reach out for help.
The right support can make it easier to keep up with your treatment, access the right accommodations and thrive in the workplace.