Young job seeker in an office talking with a potential employer

Should You Tell? Navigating the Tricky Issue of Disclosing Your Bleeding Disorder to Potential Employers

Here’s what to consider if you’re looking for a job
Author: Christina Frank

Whether you’ve just graduated from college and are on the hunt for your first job, or you’re considering a career transition, you may wonder when, how—or if—to disclose information about your bleeding disorder. Here are a few strategies to help you navigate your way.

Decide when to disclose

It is entirely up to you when to disclose your bleeding disorder. In general, however, for jobs outside the bleeding disorders community, it’s probably simpler not to reveal your bleeding disorder at first—either on your resume when applying or during an initial interview. Even if you use adaptive equipment to assist your mobility, such as crutches or a wheelchair, your privacy is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Most hiring managers do tend to appreciate knowing about an employee’s condition before the final hire, says Rosalind Joffe, a career coach who specializes in working with people with chronic illnesses. “At that point, they already want you and, ideally, want to make it as easy as possible for you to do a good job,” she says. And if you need accommodations—such as an ergonomic desk chair or a parking space near the office, for example—you’ll probably appreciate having them put in place from the get-go.

Keep in mind that even if you prefer not to disclose your condition to a top-level manager, at some point someone in your office should know about your bleeding disorder and what to do in case of an emergency. You may want to choose a co-worker who works near you or with you regularly.

Dispel fears

Bethany McCabe mentions the “shock factor” people with bleeding disorders can encounter when telling others about their condition. McCabe, 21, is a marketing specialist in Colorado and a symptomatic hemophilia carrier. People may worry that you’ll bleed or that they can catch the disease, or they will associate it with HIV and assume a “blame the victim” mentality. “Just present it in a matter-of-fact way and point out you’ve been living with this disorder your whole life and that you have never had a problem managing it,” McCabe says.

You do you

Ultimately, you know yourself better than anyone, and you know what your limits are, or aren’t. Remember that you were hired for your specific abilities to do the job, and being honest with your employer about your bleeding disorder can prove useful in building a solid rapport based on mutual trust, which is key in any employer-manager relationship. “Having a bleeding disorder is just something about you,” stresses McCabe. “It doesn’t define you.”

What to Look for in Health Insurance

If you have a chronic condition, it’s especially important that your insurance adequately covers your health needs.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a job if the insurance package is undesirable.  You may be able to afford out-of-pocket expenses or to buy your own insurance. Only you know what is financially feasible and how much you’re willing or able to compromise on benefits for a particular job opportunity. But if a potential employer offers health insurance, check if the plan has the following coverage and benefits:

• Prescription drug coverage

• Access to specialists

• Coverage for people with preexisting conditions

• No annual or lifetime cap