Thank you, Diabetes – By Helen May


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Whilst my role with my current employer has changed over the years, it is nearly ten years since I last looked for outside my current office. If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember that my diabetes diagnosis was just over ten years ago. So last time I was updating my CV, the diagnosis was new and I was still learning what diabetes meant. Although the diabetes nurse had told me diabetes should stop me doing whatever I wanted, I had not had a chance to push this. Also although I felt I should not be discriminated against because of my diabetes, I did not know the legal implications of this. So, in my job search ten years ago, I decided the best approach was not to mention diabetes in case it influenced the decision of a future employer.

Now I have a much better idea what I can do. The diabetes the nurse was right:I can do whatever I want. And I know that the Disability Discrimination Act ensures that I do not experience any discrimination and that my employer should provide reasonable provision to support me.

I decided it was time to start looking for a new job. So I dusted off my CV. I don’t feel comfortable “selling myself” and thinking of ways of describing my roles in a purely positive light so it took a number of rewrites to describe my employment history in a way I was happy. Once this was done, I was still left with what I felt was “the elephant in the room”: diabetes. Should I mention it or not? I didn’t have to but felt it would come out sooner or later and I would rather be open than hiding it. Diabetes is nothing to be ashamed of.

Communication is very important in my job and the new roles I would be looking for. Over the years, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and believe I am better than competent when it comes to presenting. And, whilst I have little interest in a near strangers’ children, I can do the necessary small talk to form a working relationship. But communication is written as well as spoken. I needed a way to illustrate my written communication (beyond the bland, factual information in my CV).

Now I had two things to include in my CV: I have type 1 diabetes (but it doesn’t stop me doing what I need to do for my career) and I am good at written communications. In a flash of inspiration, thanks to Diabetes UK, I was able to combine the two ….

…I articulate myself well in written media … illustrated by the blog I write for Diabetes UK, in which I advocate, through personal experience, the belief that diabetes does not prohibit a full and adventurous life.

I am pleased to report that this has done the trick. Three months after the words came out of my keyboard, I have resigned from my current company and preparing to work in a new company. In that time, I have had interviews from three companies. Two said nothing directly relating to my diabetes or my blog. Perhaps the question “What do you do outside work?” was an invitation to talk about it but I chose to tell them about climbing and baking and enjoying bottle of wine with friends.

However, as my interview was wrapping up with the third company, the interviewer bought up the blog. Perhaps, as he also had type 1 diabetes, he felt more comfortable than the others to talk about it. Thankfully, he shared my philosophy to just get on with your life and find a way to allow the diabetes to fit in rather than the other way round. This gave us a chance to talk some more and show off my ability to make small talk. I found a shared experience of diabetes easier to talk about than children I have never met

I’m not saying this blog (or diabetes) was the reason I have a new job to look forward to but I am pleased to be able to share my experiences in multiple ways. Thank you Diabetes UK for helping me get my new job.

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