Photo via Unsplash
by Jenny Wise
Having a disability shouldn’t prevent you from going after your career goals. While your job search will likely look very similar to that of someone without disabilities, you may face a few unique challenges along the way. Here are some tips to help you hit the ground running with your job hunt and land a position where you can let your skills shine.
Focus on What You Do Best
Anyone looking for a job should focus on their strengths above all else. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind the kinds of things you need in an ideal work environment and narrow your search to jobs where your disability will not limit you in any way. But it’s also crucial to think about the things you can do best! Avoid fixating on your limitations. Make a list of your greatest strengths to help you decide on a career field where you will thrive.
When you eventually go for an interview, use these strengths as your jumping off point. Talk about all of the things you can do well. Consider coming up with a short, but powerful, elevator pitch that reflects the unique ways you can benefit the company. Think about what drives you, why you are motivated to try your best every day, what aspects of the job you’re passionate about, and why you would be the perfect fit for the job. This really shows hiring managers that you’re driven to succeed.
Hiring managers love to see that a potential employee is confident in their abilities. You can display this confidence by addressing your disability in your interview and demonstrating how it does not affect your ability to do great things. If you feel uncomfortable disclosing your disability, that’s okay too! You don’t have to tell your interviewer anything you don’t want to. However, many people feel their confidence soar when they use their disability to show how they’ve overcome challenges or dealt with judgment in a constructive way.
Asking questions is another great way to show interviewers that you’re extremely driven. Do your research on the company and come prepared with a few questions about the organization. This really shows that you know what you’re talking about. You can also ask questions about development opportunities, professional responsibilities, and what success in the position would look like.
Craft a Skills-Based Resume
If you haven’t been employed for a while or you’ve switched jobs a lot in the past, a skills-based resume is your best bet. Instead of listing work history and education in chronological order, a skills-focused resume displays the targeted skills that make you uniquely qualified for the job. Adjust your resume for each job you apply for, listing a different combination of skills tailored to each position. Check out this article from Career Sidekick for help tailoring your resume to a specific job.
On your resume and in your interview, try to show your skills rather than simply telling about them. Avoid using clichés such as “hard-working” or “strong attention to detail.” Instead, use facts, numbers, and results to display your accomplishments.
Know Your Rights
As you go through the job-hunting process, make sure you have a solid understanding of your rights as a person with a disability. There are several federal laws that protect you from discrimination both during the job application process and in the workplace. For example, employers cannot reject you just because you cannot perform tasks that are not essential to the job position. Your employer must also make reasonable accommodations to help you do your job, like adjusting work schedules or modifying equipment. You can learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act on FindLaw.
Companies today are realizing the valuable talents and skills that people with disabilities bring to their businesses. While it may have been extremely challenging to find work in the past, the future of employment for people with disabilities looks promising. More and more companies are providing accommodations, advancement opportunities, and accessible tools for people with disabilities, allowing them to thrive in jobs they enjoy.