Job Hunting Questions

I haven't worked since my surgeries 17 months ago, but am SOOO ready to get back to it. I had a phone interview this morning and discovered I don't know how to answer the question about what I've been doing recently - meaning what job did I have? I don't want to scare away an employer by saying I had two brain surgeries, but neither do I want to be untruthful, since I may need more surgeries (I still have 2 aneurysms that are being watched). I have no physical limitations or side effects, just some very minimal memory issues which I'm dealing with so well that most people don't realize. Just wondering how others have handled it.

Great Question...I am sure many have encountered the same situation...I wish I could help, but haven't worked out of my home in many years...I am going to share this post to members of this site and see if we get some more help...wishing you the best ~ Colleen

Don’t tell them about anything. Memory problems? Next candidate. Brain surgery? Too much $ for our health insurance. Next candidate.

Don’t lie, but that’s private medical information that an employer WILL judge you for. I’ve been there, done that so please take my advice. Remember that it’s none of their business. Just act like any other job candidate.


You certainly are not required to share the reason you haven't been working recently if you don't feel it is going to be helpful. You can simply say that you took a leave of absence due to illness, and that you are ready to return to the workforce. Then you can tell them what you did prior to your surgeries. Best of luck!

If the employer does ask this question, be honest but you can tell them: "I took some time off to deal with personal matters, and I have resolved them and I am eager to return to work".

Good Luck on you interview and job searching!

Yes I agree it’s not their business - if you are confident you can do the job it should not affect your performance. I’ve had 2 brain aneurysm clippings and I was very eager to get back to work. The problem for me was I could not go back to what I was doing because of the vestibular disorders I was having…so I got something that I like to do and kept busy…I was a patrol officer

Tell them, I was dealing with some medical issues, but now I'm fine.

I had a brain aneurysm to rupture on February 17 2012. I haven’t been able to work until about 3 Months ago. Every application I have filled out asks why I left my last job. I’ve been honest and no one has even given me a call. It’s very frustrating because I’m good at what I did. My old employer will not even hire me back.

I agree with Irene and BA. Tell them “medical leave of absence” and you wanted to make sure you were all healed before going back to work again. Incredibly, my company stood by me for my 6 months of leave (two brain surgeries, etc) and then let me work my way back up from 15 hours a week back in November to about 30 hours a week as of now. I write down everything so I don’t forget! Companies like to brag “we’re like a family” but mine truly has been. Best of luck to you :slight_smile:

I started a new job after having coiling and I told employer the truth, it didn’t pose a problem, also 12 months later I needed clipping so it was better for me that I told the truth in first place as I needed time off after clipping and they completely understood x

It is hard. I was running a federal agency when I had my aneurysm burst. I am back there now, but not as the head. I used to be known for both my brains and my four inch heels! Now I am largely in flats and strangers who know not what happened regard me as drunk when I can’t quote cases properly.

Congrats on returning to work! I understand your concern in telling a prospective employer anything. After my ruptured aneurysm in 2006, I was out of work for approximately 11 months. Lost my job of 10 years during that time. I returned to work slowly, by way of temporary agencies. Questioning my own abilities, the temporary work gave me a chance to prove to myself that I hadn't "lost" it. Just needed to fine-tune how I do certain things because of short-tem memory loss. Anyway, the temporary thing worked great until I took my first full-time position. However, lost that one during the 90-day probationary period, ironically the week after I completed the health insurance enrollment papers. Went back to temporary work for two weeks until I landed the one I still currently have. If you are able to, I would recommend temporary assignments in your field. As for the time off, do NOT tell them it was anything medical! Personal or family, but after dealing with all of the insurance and employer run-around that I have I would not recommend telling them medical. Good luck and God Bless!!

Awesome question Shawn!
I returned to work after 18 months off. I had recovered about 95% after a 6 cm brain aneurysm hemorrhage. I returned to work working for a school district and kids with disabilities. I had been very upfront with them from from the beginning. (I was and am blind to my left,deaf on the right and weak on my left side.) Working with kids was something I could do in my sleep and had done for years before the hemorrhage. It comes very easy and naturally for me. So,for me working with kids with disabilities was something that I didn’t have to think about. It made returning to work very easy.
I would suggest returning to a field of work you have done for years or comes easily to you. Be upfront with the employer, mine had no issues once they saw my work well, I don’t think they had issues even before that or, I wouldn’t have been hired.
Also, in working with kids with disabilities I had a unique insight as to where the kids were at in their abilities. My only mistake had been returning full time. My abilities regressed and I had to go to part time.
Now after 12 years at the same school, my opinions about where the kids are coming from and what they really CAN do are valued. Be upfront and open with all around you. Show others your disabilities are there but not who you are or what you can do.
One of my favorite quotes…
"We are not defined by our abilities but, by the choices we make."
Good luck!

In my situation I went back to work fulltime 4 months after surgery to clip the anuerysm after it had burst, I was released with no restrictions and I was eager to get back! In retrospect it was a mistake, by the doctors that released me and by me for believing I was back to being me. A little over a year later I was terminated for what I found out later were the symptoms from the cut in my head to repair the burst. I found another fulltime position and was released for the same thing. Do not rush back. Take your time to heal, get therapy to get to the new normal we all seek and will find. I have been out of work now for 2 years. Neither employer documented the termination which has made it even more difficult to find employment. I blame the doctors and my self for believing I was fine. I am now in a Disability Claim process with Social Security. I am awaiting a court appearance before an Administrative law judge. You will heal. Give it time. My prayers are with you. Dano

I was anxious to get back to work after my rupture and recovery - doc released me 4 months later after exhaustive testing both physical and psychological. I went back to my previous job for 2 years as a supervisor but found that my patience quotient was terrible and could no longer handle that type of stress so I quit with medical advice. On the other hand I still remembered all the workings of the systems so I did not experience any learning curve whatsoever which is something that was not evident to me as being any kind of an issue. I then proceeded to degrade my employment from supervisor to all different levels of office work. It was pointed out to me time and time again that I was not retaining information and my learning curve of all the various technologies and simple procedures was too long and in some cases quite simply not able to comprehend. At one job I was compared to the 'deer in the headlights' where it just looked like my head was empty. I was fired from 5 jobs in 2 years. All of this took a toll on my emotional state, I went to my Neurologist who had me fully tested for cognitive deficits and sure enough my learning and retaining center in my brain has been damaged. I am now on disability pension but am permitted to work 20 hours per week up to a maximum of $$$ per month (this is in Canada btw). It was very long and painful to finally be accepted for the disability pension but it finally came through. If I had not been offered this option, my next step was to be enrolled in a special unit we have which helps the disabled/handicapped to find work. That is where I was heading in order to make a living for myself. While I was going through all of this (the past 6 years) I felt like I was spiralling downward and it was very difficult. I now receive pension and work 3 evenings per week at a Long term care hospital close to home. Life is not perfect that's for sure and my income has taken a dramatic drop but I have to accept that is where I am now. Hope I have helped you in some way.

Advice applying for a job with a medical condition. Unless your medical condition directly impacts what you plan to do, I would not share your medical condition with a potential employer. I say that because I used to be in the hiring industry and when weeding through resumes, the hiring manager looks for any reason to toss out potential candidates. If you bring this up in an interview, it may be your last interview. If you get hired for a position and you have any difficulties doing the work, then you would have to request accommodations. Your medical condition is your private matter. As for what to put on your job application for the months you were off, if you were doing any kind of community service or volunteer work you can show that experience during the time frame. Also if there was a project you worked on while you were laid up, you can also indicate something like that in the work experience gap. Or just show that you were unemployed due to a personal leave of absence. They will ask you about it during the interview process and be prepared with a short response, that doesn't give a lot of personal details.

If you have someone that you know at the place of employment, then that's a different story. If you have someone to vouch for your work ethic and output, then that's the best way to get hired now a days. They can just say that you were off work for a while caring for some personal/family matters. Getting into a position via networking with people you know if your best option for going back to work. Hope that helps and good luck!

Thanks! You validated what my instincts were telling me!

I agree with Robin, I had revealed my illness to a couple of the employers and it definitely without question worked against me - it gave them more ammunition to state that I was incapacitated and I was prejudiced because of it - I no longer tell my employers of my health history - yes there are many ways to get around it.

I wouldn't say a thing. Personal time, family time, but not brain surgery.

I had a great job in six figures until I had to go out for coiling and had a complication that kept me out longer - when I got back to work on 10/7/13 after surgery on 7/27/13 I never got my clients back and was not given much work, and then laid off 4/21/14 for "lack of work".

I felt like an outcast - people don't understand brain surgery and are afraid of it. I had no deficits either, but having surgery and coming back was a career breaker.

Now down to last $1000, looking to do something else and really don't know what I am going to do.

Not to put a damper on it, but job hunting is definitely not good right now.

I wish you the best.


Definitely a great question and I too faced this 3 years back and to this day; I do not tell any potential employer about my AVM that torpedoed into my life without any warning. The way I look at this sensitive topic is that the discussion around a medical leave of absence or sharing this illness in any way is not necessary as part of the interview process. The potential employer may and does have every right to ask why you've taken some time off and an acceptable response to this can be...I decided to take some time for myself before actively pursuing opportunities. I'm not sure what you were doing for work before your surgeries or why you are no longer there; but just know that the response I noted is an acceptable one. Once you get back to work; then it is entirely up to You whether You want to share this experience with your co-workers or not but would certainly stay away from discussing any of the negative side effects that this can leave us with. Hope this helps and Best of Luck to you in your Job Search! For now; just keep enjoying this time that You have for YOU :))!