Telephone operator. Bartender. Retail associate. Camp counselor.
Before settling into my adult professional career in advertising, these were the jobs I had as a teen and young adult. All very different roles, but my psoriasis was a part of every single one.
In May 2004, it was time to find a “real” job. The kind that would put my shiny new degree to work.
It was the first time I was sending out resumes and hoping for interviews. The stress of job hunting triggered a new psoriasis flare, which added a new layer of stress to the process.
That particular flare taught me a lot about how to approach job hunting, interviewing, and starting a new job while managing psoriasis.
My two cents: It depends.
If a flare is visible and you’re comfortable discussing it, then I’d consider providing a brief explanation of what psoriasis is, emphasizing that it’s not contagious. Then I’d move on.
If your psoriasis will impact your position and duties, or present physical restrictions, I’d advise you to bring it up as you get further into the interview process. Talk with Human Resources once you start discussing details about the role and responsibilities.
Once I started my psoriasis blog, I included it on my resume. The skills I learned from blogging were relevant to the industry I was working in. This also allowed me to disclose my diagnosis to potential employers without calling attention to it in an interview setting.
In one instance, I was interviewing for a job where the interviewer also had psoriasis. It gave us a great connection. I ended up working with her for 5 years!
I always try to dress to make a good first impression. Acceptable job interview attire varies greatly based on your profession. Regardless, you should always appear to be neat and tidy.
You’ll also want to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. Make sure to:
- Choose soft fabrics and a looser fit. If clothing is itchy or uncomfortable, you won’t be at your best. Interview attire shouldn’t be baggy, but tight-fitting clothing can irritate psoriasis spots.
- Layer up. Some job interviews can be lengthy and office temperatures are unpredictable. Wear layers to stay comfortable.
- Select light colors. Black and navy tend to be top choices for interviews since they look sharp. But flakes on darker colored clothing will cause you extra stress. A crisp white shirt can also achieve that sharpness while helping to hide flakes.
- Stick with your normal skin care routine. Don’t try out new lotions, products, or makeup that day in case it irritates your psoriasis.
- Accessorize! Scarves, headbands, and necklaces can double as extra psoriasis coverage. They can also be used to draw the eye away from a troublesome skin patch, bringing the attention to the accessory instead.
Psoriasis flares can chip away at your confidence. Remember that this company or team brought you in for an interview. They saw something in your experience and resume that made them take notice and want to meet you.
Psoriasis may be top of mind during your preparations. But don’t forget to practice answering common interview questions. Be prepared to talk about the successes that led you to this point in your career.
Before you walk into the interview, take a few moments to meditate or give yourself a pep talk. You’ve got the skills they want — you deserve to be there!
As you walk in the door, flash your pearly whites. The simple act of smiling can help elevate your mood and reduce stress.
As I gained more experience in my field, I continued to build confidence in my skill set and in myself. I knew that if I was right for a role, but my psoriasis was a problem for an interviewer, then that wasn’t a place I wanted to work.
First, do a happy dance and pat yourself on the back. You did it!
Just like with the interview process, deciding whether you want to bring up your psoriasis to your new co-workers is ultimately up to you.
It may feel random to just proclaim “I have psoriasis!” Chances are, they’ll ask a lot of questions to get to know you. You can find a way to naturally work it into the conversation.
I did the opposite at my first “real” job. I was asked about a flare on my arm while with a group of people. At first, I got really upset and embarrassed. I was eventually able to muster up a reply explaining that it’s just psoriasis. The original asker then told me about his own troubles with eczema over the years.
Job hunting and interviewing are stressful enough without a psoriasis flare. With the right preparation and strategy, you can minimize the effects it has on you so you can focus on getting the job.
Joni Kazantzis is the creator and blogger behind Just a Girl with Spots, an award-winning psoriasis blog dedicated to creating awareness, educating, and sharing personal stories from her 19+ year journey with psoriasis. Her mission is to create a sense of community and to share information that can help her readers cope with the day-to-day challenges of living with psoriasis. She believes that with as much information as possible, people with psoriasis can be empowered to live their best life and make the right treatment choices.