4 Tips for Job Seekers with a Disability

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It’s no secret that everyday things can be much tougher for people with disabilities, but a job search can also be more challenging for them. Many of these people find that disability is still stigmatized in the workplace, even if it doesn’t affect an employee’s performance. 

Fortunately, these attitudes are gradually changing and improving. If you have had a mostly negative experience as a worker, you might be wondering what you can do to improve your chances of landing your dream job. We understand how discouraging it can be, but we urge you not to lose hope—keep going because the right job is out there! You may face hurdles that able-bodied people don’t have to think about, but it doesn’t mean you can’t realize your dreams.

Finding a job—let alone your dream job—can be extremely challenging for anyone. Having a disability can make it even harder as some employers are wary of hiring a person with a disability, even if the disability doesn’t impact their job performance. Much remains to be done where equality is concerned, but companies are becoming more intentional about building inclusive workplaces. 

There are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of landing a job while making the process less stressful. Even though the job search can feel discouraging, especially when you believe people aren’t looking past your disability, the key is to persist—you will find the right job with the right company.

If you think you could benefit from expert guidance, check out our professional services for job success. You may benefit from career coaching, help with writing or overhauling your resume, or a mock job interview to increase your chances of success. We have experience helping people with different types of disabilities, so you are sure to find a service that best fits your unique situation and needs.

So, what are some things people with disabilities can do to find their perfect job? 

1. Stay informed about your rights as a person with a disability 

First and foremost, you should be well-versed in local laws and regulations that govern the employment of people with disabilities. Knowing what your rights are, what constitutes discrimination, and how you’re protected by the law will help you navigate the job search and apply with more confidence. Since legal frameworks can vary across states or countries, make sure you check your local regulations to be clear about what applies to your specific situation. Your approach may differ depending on the laws in your jurisdiction, and it’s always useful to know what safeguards are in place if you face discrimination.

Discriminating against candidates with disabilities is illegal in most of the world, but being informed will make you ready to advocate for yourself and your right to employment should the situation call for it. This will allow you to face the job search with more confidence, which, in turn, can help you impress a recruiter and get hired. Use your knowledge to understand what kinds of questions a hiring manager can or cannot ask, to negotiate a fair salary, and to be aware of what assistive technologies you can expect or request from the employer in case you get the job (for example, speech recognition software or video relay services). 

2. Be honest about your disability but focus on your strengths

Just as you expect a potential employer to be honest about the job, you are expected to be honest about any disabilities that might impact their performance. Keep in mind that you are not obligated to mention your disability in your resume or job interview, but honesty is the best policy when you’re interviewing for a position—it ensures that both parties are getting what they need from each other and that there will be fewer surprises down the road. 

Even if talking about your disability feels uncomfortable, if it’s something that could impact your performance on the job, it’s better to discuss it during the interview rather than have the employer discover it after hiring you. In this case, they are likely to be upset that you didn’t mention your disability, and the conversation will become much more uncomfortable.

That said, keep in mind that being honest doesn’t mean pointing out your flaws—you should always focus on your strengths when applying for jobs and on finding solutions to any possible problems, regardless of whether or not you have a disability. It’s better to focus on what you can achieve despite the challenges your disability presents—if you can demonstrate your passion, tenacity, ingenuity, or other positive traits, your disability may not be of any concern to the employer. 

Moreover, if you’re honest from the start about any special accommodations you will need, it will be easier for the hiring manager to concentrate on your strengths, skills, and qualifications, which you should always play up. You’ll also win points for your honesty and confidence, and if you’re hired, you’ll know the company truly accepts you and you’re entering a friendly and inclusive work environment.

You want to present yourself as the ideal candidate for the job, your disability notwithstanding. Sell yourself by highlighting previous professional accomplishments and successes, as well as your transferable skills and abilities. If you’re applying for your first job and lack professional experience, focus on any volunteer work, internships, or projects you have been involved in, and let your passion shine through. Confidence and passion can take you further than you might think—employers are always eager to hire workers who genuinely like the job.

3. Build new skills to put on your resume

If you feel that your resume needs more substance, it might be time for you to acquire some new skills and gain more experience. Learning something new and adding to your professional experience are especially important if you’re entering the workforce for the first time or rejoining it after a long break, but it never hurts to improve your personal brand, regardless of where you are in your career. There are always new things to learn and ways to improve, and embracing life-long learning is essential for maximizing your professional potential.

Whether you join a job training program, participate in a workshop, apply for an internship or an apprenticeship, do volunteer work, or pursue your own projects, honing your skill set is always a great way to spend your time and energy. If it’s taking longer than you expected to secure employment, you can always opt for freelance or part-time gigs to boost your resume while you continue looking for your perfect job. Don’t get discouraged by a long job search—it’s a tricky endeavor for anyone. Instead, always watch out for new opportunities and ways to enhance your resume and employability.

4. Target inclusive organizations

Despite all the laws and regulations, there’s still a long way to go before we have true equality in the workplace, and people with disabilities continue to face discrimination when applying for jobs. To minimize the odds of having a negative experience, seek out inclusive employers known for their equal opportunity policies. 

Look for organizations that have pledged not to discriminate against employees based on things such as race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, and focus your efforts on them. Scan their websites and social media profiles to determine where they stand on social equality—not only are companies like this more likely to hire you, but they’re also more likely to offer you an accepting work environment. You can also reach out to employment agencies and services that specialize in helping people with disabilities find jobs or hire a coach to guide you through the job-seeking process. 

If you’re struggling with your resume or wish to learn more about personalized career coaching, reach out to our team of experts, who can help you find a job as a person with a disability. 

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