Bipolar return to work

Thursday, August 27th, 2009 - career management, Employment, Job Application, job search, recruitment

Bipolar return to work

Day One: 365 He makes me bipolar, does that mean I like him?

Mark asks: What should I put on my CV after being out of work due to Bipolar? The last time I worked was in June 2008. In October 2008 I applied for a number of jobs but mainly due to ongoing problems with Bipolar Disorder, I wasn’t able to take up any posts. I am now ready to return to work (I hope) and will be applying to the same companies I applied to last year. Due to huge anxiety about firms not wanting to know, I have lied on my CV with a couple of applications about the date I last worked – not sure if they check that fully or keep records of past applications. However, I am worried about doing this and burning bridges and never getting a job again. Should I remain honest and leave the last date worked as June 2008 and if so, what should I put on my CV for why I haven’t worked for nearly a year?

In answer:
Dear Mark,

You seem to have lots of concern here as to how employers will perceive your resolved and hence stable medical condition. But in reality, I know you have little to be concerned about if you approach this in the correct way.

Legally, you don’t need to mention your medical condition in your CV. You would only have to legally if the employer asked you to complete their job application form. However, if you do mention it, the potential employer can not use that as a reason to reject your application, or terminate your trial period. It is the same for any medical condition.

Although you always have the option to lie, a CV is a sales document against a specific job. To do so would simply add pressure to you, your application, and eventually be uncovered: which would be a reason for rejection, and dismissal without notice or compensation

Job Application

Here are my thoughts on handling your job application:

  • Make an appointment with your GP. Discuss your return to work, and the types of work they would agree your condition would not be agitated by. This is important and must be applied rigorously, as they could become a later reference to your suitability for work
  • Make sure you only apply for posts which are fully qualified for. This applies to all job applicants, and which most ignore! Don’t apply for things you might just or be partially qualified for. Use a highlighter pen to find the key skills/competencies required in the advert, and then highlight the same skills/competencies in your CV
  • The dates on your CV don’t need to be specific dates. It can simply be years, ie: 2008 rather than June, 2008. However, if asked, always be honest about the actual dates. At present, periods of unemployment are not unusual
  • Did you do anything in the period you were out of work? I recently wrote a CV for an ex-prisoner who was jailed for 5years for drug importation. He had gained an HND and degree while sat in jail, so we used that on his CV to get to interview stage. He wasn’t lying or hiding the truth, and always revealed the reason for his study in interview. He got three job offers
  • While leaving date-gaps creates questions, you don’t need to mention periods of unemployment. At present, periods of unemployment or rest as some word them on CV’s are presently normal in job applicants
  • At some point, your previous medical condition will come out: see my comments above on legalities. Employers want to know that any issue that could disrupt employment (divorce, recently had a child, thinking about moving, medical condition, prison, etc), are (a) stable, and (b) in the past. Assure them of that, and its not an issue
  • If the employer asks for access to your medical records, make sure this is their standard procedure for all employees. If it is, don’t refuse access: your GP will be aware of what is legally warranted and what is intrusion

If you apply for jobs you are wholly skilled to undertake, and focus on your suitability to do the job, the employer will put your previous medical condition aside if they are assured of its stability. Employers want people who are skilled and enthusiastic about working for them primarily – everything else is a weak second place at best.

Good Luck!


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2 Responses to “Bipolar return to work”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Bipolar return to work | CV4.BIZ - The Professional CV Writing Experts [] on Says:

    […] link is being shared on Twitter right now. @professionalcv said #CV Bipolar return to work […]

  2. Emilio Says:

    Hi all, i really know how it is to have a problem like this. I’ve struggling from this like a few months with the normal ups and downs so i truly know its not fun when you have a true problem like this.

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