Although I focus on issues that come up working while living with chronic illness, I believe healthy & people with illness face the same  issues.  Just a different emphasis.  As a member of a new community of resume writers and career coaches called the Career Collective, this post is one of many responses to the question, “Are you a cookie cutter job seeker?”  I encourage you to visit other members’ responses, linked at the end of my reply! Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.

“Are you a cookie cutter job seeker?”

I’m going to start with a  story.  “Alan” is 32, married with no children,  and has lived with relatively mild rheumatoid arthritis (RA) since childhood.  After graduating with a masters in Physics, he hopped from job to job, working on short term contracts and left a job he didn’t like.

But then an interviewer told him that his resume looks sketchy because he’d moved around so much.  Living with illness, Alan had been told since childhood he should “play safe” and not take risks.  He already believed he’d taken too much risk getting a degree in physics that didn’t translate into a job.   That comment convinced him to find a job he could stay in.

He’s worked as a web designer in a bank for 6 years, has been bored and frustrated  since the first 6 months and  is desperate for a change.

Alan wants a different job and maybe even develop a  career path. But he’s  afraid to leave a secure job  for the unknown because he’s afraid of making the wrong choice.  His family and friends tell him he’d be crazy to leave.   What if he hates the next job? Where will that leave him ?

Alan feels stuck because he’s trying to force himself  into some cookie cutter mold.  He’s struggling trying  to fit into other people’s ideas of what his resume should look like and how he should live his work life.  But he lacks any alternative.  He doesn’t know what he wants to be.

In fact, Alan’s fear that he’ll make a bad choice for his next job is grounded. In all likelihood, without sufficient data to make a good choice.   He needs to clearly identify what he wants in a career.  He needs to see his unique needs.  He needs the fundamental element to finding the right job for you: a clear vision of who you are and where you want to be.

There are  plenty of online interests/values/needs assessments  — and some are quite good.   I’ve created an easy to use version designed specifically (but not limited to) people with chronic illness.  It’s in my workbook, Keep Working With Chronic Illness.

It can be a scary world for all sorts of reasons – good health or not.  But it won’t get safer by  limiting yourself to being  cut from the cookie cutter mold so you might look like everyone else.   Or by limiting your options because  others think you should.  Go find your own shape and size and flaunt it.

Want to read more on this topic?

NEWS: Monday Oct 12 is World Arthritis Day. Learn more about living and working (I’m featured here!) with RA at a fantastic new interactive website, NewWayRA.


18 Responses to “Forget the cookies! Start with vision”  

  1. 1 Gayle Howard

    So true Rosalind. Great post! While no jobseeker should follow the so-called “tried and true” methods of passive jobseeking, using these cookie cutter methods when having the extra challenges of chronic illness is simply not a good strategy. I love your phrase “Go find your own shape and size and flaunt it”–how inspiring!

  2. 2 Dawn Bugni

    Living life by someone else’s rules is no way to live. I hope Alan finds his bliss, from deep inside himself, and goes for it, regardless what others think. “This ain’t no dress rehearsal.”

    Brilliant reminder happiness comes from within. Absolutely brilliant! Thanks for sharing Rosalind.

  3. 3 Rosalind

    Yup – love that one, too. Ain’t no dress rehearsal. And, 2 day is the first day of the rest of your life. There’s a reason for these platitudes. They mean something! Thanks!

  4. 4 Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers

    Thanks for sharing this story! It is tough to take a calculated risk, and I really like your “take” on this question. When we allow opinions from other people to dictate our plans, that is certainly taking a cookie cutter approach!

    I’m so glad to have you in the Career Collective and look forward to your future posts!

  5. 5 Barbara Safani


    I think the last sentence of your post, “Go find your own shape and size and flaunt it” says it all. Great insights.

  6. 6 Rosalind

    Thanks, Barbara. What’s terrific about the collective is that there are value laden tips on each one.

  7. 7 Doggie Howser

    If you ever went to a pain clinic you likely had to visit every month in order to receive your prescriptions. This findrxonline what Not only is the price of a consultation very steep (usually around $500 for initial and $250+ for follow ups) but then there is also the cost of expensive shots and medications. There are also many people who need surgery but who can’t afford it. For others who already had surgery and are still experiencing chronic pain there may not even be any solution besides ongoing pain management with strong pain medications.
    Often your local physician will stop prescribing pain medication when surgery is recommended but not performed or when pain medication is required for longer periods of time. If you’re lucky you’ll get 30-60 tabs of Vicodin or Lortab which will cost around $140 for the consultation plus a few bucks for the medication itself. Most people don’t realize how hard it is for legit pain patients to find a doctor who is willing to help you out without charging an arm and a leg.

  8. 8 Rosalind

    The issue of getting pain medicine is a huge one both for patients and doctors. And it dramatically impacts a persons ability to function. The problems around treating pain and getting effective treatment are huge, as they are with fatigue and our current system isn’t set up to deal with this. Thanks for pointing this out!

  9. 9 Greg Johnson

    Hi – I don’t comment on many blogs but had to on yours. It’s really nice! I really like how you write – very to the point, unlike a lot of other journals. The job market now is so competitive, you have to have a perfect resume. There is a very affordable consulting service a friend of mine used. It is at Please check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks for having this site. I’ll bookmark it and visit regularly. Keep up the great work!

  1. 1 Sabotaging your prospects: cookie-cutter style | Gayle's Blog
  2. 2 Is your job search “cookie-cutter” or “hand-dropped”? « Dawn's Blog
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  4. 4 Tweets that mention Working With Chronic Illness --
  5. 5 Eating Bananas Doesn’t Make You an Ape | Career Management Alliance Blog
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  8. 8 Passive job seeker = cookie cutter job seeker « Sweet Careers Consulting
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