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Dec 26, 2002
I was diagnosed HIV+ in 1994 and have been on SSDI ever since. While on disability I returned to school to complete my BS degree in Human Resources Management and will complete my MBA next September. I recently turned 50, I have no physical or mental restrictions and I'm relatively healthy. Now I would like to return to work full time, now but I'm not sure how to explain to a prospective employer why I haven't been employed for the past 8 years without getting into the HIV issue, and I think my age will work against me. I have asked for help from the local AIDS Service Organizations and my case manager but none of them have been any help at all. Can you give me any suggestions on how to deal with this?
Response from Ms. Breuer
I'm confused about why you were on disability; you note only that you learned that you're HIV-positive in 1994, but you don't mention the cause of the SSDI. In any case, your academic work combined with the need to care for a serious family illness is all you need to say. It doesn't matter that the serious illness is yours. As for the age discrimination, we've all met hiring managers who are indeed biased concerning age, but there's no point in heading into an interview expecting that bias. People who win jobs generally do it on the basis of selling themselves well, whatever their age. Emphasize what you will contribute if hired, and stay on that theme, relentlessly. I wish you well!
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