For those of us who have been told, “You have cancer,” we look for support and help everywhere, and at times, despite statistics showing that more and more people are receiving cancer diagnoses, we find our “tribe” — our “cancer” network — through social media. We share things and receive love, support and make friendships and connections via our phones and social media.

This is all great and so important — especially for me — so I imagine it is for you, too. The only drawback to sharing openly and connecting with others is that our “digital footprint” now shows that we have / had cancer. We should be open and not feel ashamed, BUT hiring managers might not agree or be willing to take a chance on us because of our illness(es) — which is totally illegal, mind you, but how do you prove it?

Before any interview or job offer, every hiring team across all industries googles their potential new employee. Think about googling yourself to see what comes up. If a lot of content or links talk about your health, you might want to consider doing these steps to “hide them” a bit.

To hide your illness from social media google searches:

  1. Create another social media world based off of your career successes/professional aspirations in the hopes that this will come up before the illness items.

  2. Change the name or identifying information on your personal social media accounts to help allow your professional name search NOT pull it up.

  3. DO NOT BE ASHAMED by what you have shared — this is just because the mindset for hiring managers is, “Will this employee be a good fit? Will they mesh with our team? Will they be reliable and be in every day no matter what?” For some reason, being a cancer patient can make the hiring managers think, “This person could get sick/be sick/miss work — maybe we should move on to the stack of résumés that DO NOT have an illness.”

Now, for the second part of this process in using social media as a professional, here are some tips to start today.

Identify Your Strategy. Identify your industry of interest or the skill you want to promote to stand out in said industry — the choice of how to do this is dependent on a) how much work experience you have and b) if you are changing industries or not. Ideally, you should be a “generalist” and able to move between industries by highlighting your skills alone but that does not always work so you can do a mix of the two sharing or pick one that works best for you.

Sharing Content. Once you decide on your strategy, decide on your plan of social media. What platforms should you use to stand out for your brand? Skip Facebook immediately — you can keep using that for personal reasons because it is hardly used for anything else by anyone. Instead, focus on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn (of course).

I would include SnapChat but all anyone I know uses it for is to make themselves look like a puppy so maybe skip that for now until it becomes more mainstream.

Post it on Social Media. Now, begin to share content around your industry / specialty.

With Instagram, you can snap photos of yourself preparing to give a training or with work colleagues celebrating something work related. You can also show pictures of you in business attire or quotes and/or image based text such as photo of your resume with some words included. There are apps to make an image look like a professional post such as Canva and TypiImage. You can use instaquote to draft a saying or a general lesson about your role or specialty and share that — like “Project Management — how to know how to do any task right,” something catchy and interesting. You can share that on Instagram.

For Twitter, you can share articles about your dream company (favorable) or industry (think pieces) and include a quick comment about it.

LinkedIn is the way to move mountains for your career, though. Share articles once or twice every 2 weeks and include your overview of the article. Consider writing your own piece for LinkedIn Pulse. Get out there are be your amazing professional self on all social media to help you find your career after cancer.