How do I explain my stress leave to my next boss?

Posted in Careers, Mentor Minute

How do I explain my stress leave to my next boss?

The Globe and Mail, Sep. 12 2011

For the past eight months, I’ve been on a work stress disability leave. I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been and ready to return to work. However, layoffs have eliminated my position and many others. How do I go forward searching for a new position, with the stress leave and the layoff both affecting my work history “story”?

The answer

Layoffs, leaves of absence, maternity leaves are all part of the fabric of our workplaces. Everybody has a story. Its all about the confidence with which you present yours.

What I love about your current story is that you are healthier now than ever. Your opportunity is to show a prospective employer that this is the case. Start by getting really clear on your work history and the strengths and accomplishments of your past. Also be prepared to discuss your challenges, struggles and obstacles. The more self-aware you can show that you are, by easily answering both the easy and tough questions, the better you will present yourself and stand up against other candidates.

Also, be prepared to state why you were on leave, what you did to alleviate the stress and what is different now. In an interview, I would also want to know how you plan to manage future stress. Stress will always be part of any job – its our ability to manage our stress that is key. What tools and techniques have you learned that will serve you moving forward? If you can show that not only have you recovered from your stress issues, but have found a way to manage them, employers will be more inclined to hire you.

Katie Bennett is principal of Double Black Diamond Coaching in Vancouver.