In the highly competitive job market, finding a good position can sometimes be overwhelming. And, if you happen to have a disability, the task feels even more daunting. However, the fact is, nearly 20% of the US labor force consists of individuals with disabilities. This shows that there are many employers out there who can see a person’s real talent, beyond his/her disabilities. Clearly, there are employers who understand the positivity, compassion, and dedication that a differently-abled person can bring to a business.
There is much guidance, support, and training from government resources to help a disabled person find employment. While government-backed schemes are generating jobs for people with disabilities, there are also awareness-raising initiatives being conducted to break stereotypes and to ensure that everyone is given an equal chance to work regardless of his/her disability.
Here is how to approach the job search if you have disability:
Emphasize on your skills and abilities
The most important thing for getting any job is to have the required expertise and skill set. Highlight your abilities by showing the prospective employer few samples of your work. Share details about what makes you employable and emphasize the special skills you have gained while adapting to your disability, and how these skills can benefit the business. It is a competitive job market out there – go sell yourself!
Seek professional counseling
If you are not sure about the type of work you want to do, seek professional counseling. A disability employment advisor can not only provide you career guidance, but also help you to get training and apply for jobs through the right channels. An advisor may also enlighten you about various government programs and resources that could help you in your career search.
Know about your rights
As per the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is mandatory for employers to provide accommodations for a (qualified) applicant with a disability. If you need an accommodation to attend an interview or to perform any necessary job functions, you can request your employer to provide what is necessary. Similarly, if you need an interpreter or any form of communication support, you can request that as well.
No one has to know about your disability before you’re ready to tell
There is no need to mention your disability in a resume or cover letter unless it directly affects your work. If there is a telephone interview before a face-to-face interview, you do not need to share details about your disability, and can instead focus on impressing the employer with your talents and skills. You can mention your disability later on in the hiring process.
Find out about organizations that hire people with disabilities
There are many organizations that give special emphasis on hiring people with disabilities. Websites such as www.usbln.org or www.abilityjobfindah.com list disability-friendly employers. In addition, you should look out for job advertisements from Equal Opportunity Employers on the Web or in newspapers. You can also take advantage of the many initiatives run by the government to polish your skills, get training, and find a job, you can find details here.
Look for a job through the right channels
There are various online job portals that are designed specifically to cater to individuals with disabilities. Online career fairs are also an excellent medium to get access to several potential job opportunities in one place. You can also look for jobs through temporary agencies, such as Kelly Services and Manpower.
Be confident about your abilities
While the disability may be beyond your control, you can still work on developing the skills and capabilities to have a successful career. Take your education seriously, and train yourself to acquire any specific skills that you are interested in. Be confident about your abilities, and your talent and dedication will shine through.
Respond politely to inappropriate questions
Most employers will avoid asking personal questions about your disability. However, if someone does mention it, the way you choose to respond is up to you. You can either choose to avoid the topic altogether, or you can take it as an opportunity to tell them how you are determined to succeed despite your disability, and how you can contribute to the organization.
Be serious about your job
Never use a disability as an excuse to take it easy at your job. If you ever feel discouraged or incompetent because of your disability, check out the countless success stories of people who made it big regardless of their physical/mental limitations. Success lies in having the right attitude!
In addition to all this, use social media to your advantage. Make sure your LinkedIn account is updated and as professional as possible. Use your Twitter, Facebook, and Quora accounts to expand your network and get connected to the right people. If you are ready to put in the effort, no disability can stop you from getting the job you deserve.