JOB SEARCH / JUN. 23, 2014
version 7, draft 7

How to Overcome Disability During Job Search and Employment?

Finding a suitable job is one of the toughest challenges faced for job seekers with disabilities. Remember, disability (in other words ‘being differently abled’) is not inability by any means. And the case is no different with job seekers.

Disabled job seekers are people who have already crossed the tougher stages of life during childhood, education and graduation. Hence they need no motivation to achieve greater goals. However, there is some important information and guidance that can help them reach their targets easily. These points can help them in many ways, like how and when to disclose their disability, how to highlight their superior abilities among other things.

What you need to know?  

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, it is against the law for an employer to rule out a qualified applicant just because he/she is differently abled. If you are a US citizen, look for “Positive about disabled people' icon in job ads. The absence of this icon does not always mean that the employer is not positive about disability. As long as the ADA is in effect, all employers must make reasonable accommodation adjustments in the workplace. This may include compliant restrooms, ramps, desks that can be raised, lowered or modified, widening doors, work surface and compliant parking, among other things.

 The Disability Discrimination Act of UK offers equal rights and opportunities along with some special provisions to differently abled employees. Likewise, many countries have laws that provide special provisions of their differently abled citizens. So it is crucial to know what protection your country offers you.   

You can also seek Help from SSI/SSDI while applying for a job. Contact SSDI consultant for monetary maintenance benefits.  

Job Search Handbook for People with Disabilities is a useful book by Dr. Daniel J. Ryan that offers guidance on how and when to disclose your disability to a potential employer.

Even though lots of helping hands are on your side and disabled discrimination is illegal, it is difficult to fight against some ‘silent discriminations’. It is also hard to prove them because employers don’t really have to justify their rejections.  

Here is some important guidance that might be of value to you.

Prepare a list of jobs/activities you can do without the interference of your disability. Next, think of all your special abilities, skillsets and your interests. Now you can shortlist jobs that best suit you and match them with your interests. This way you will not waste time on jobs that don’t really suit you.

If you have a disability that is clearly visible, it is always better to disclose them. Sometimes hiding them can be a good excuse for your rejection. On the other hand, if your disability is invisible, consider holding back. You can actually disclose your problems after an offer is made or after you are explained about the terms of employment. During this time, you may consider revealing your disability or asking for any additional support, if required.

This is very important. While applying for job or during form filling and while you are in a face-to-face interview, it is important to highlight your superior talents and abilities. Let your employer know that your disability will not affect other office activities. Often, your superior abilities will overshadow your disability.   

Just in case you are called for an interview and you are not interested in the job, don’t ignore it. Get yourself some interview practice and take the job, if offered. You may not stick to the job throughout your life but any job experience would do a world of good for you. At least, it will increase your confidence and let your future employers know that you are more than capable of taking up office tasks.   

Discuss with your boss or team leader and ensure you know all your roles and responsibilities before taking up the job. This will help you preplan better and take decisions accordingly. Consider openly declaring your difficulties especially if you are lucky to have a kind boss / team leader. This way, they might appreciate your honesty.     

As Scott Hamilton points out, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude”. Hope the above ideas are useful for your job search efforts.

All the Best!!

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