According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population have a disability. Among people with disabilities, many are highly employable, and their disability does not exclude them from having a job. However, there can be additional challenges when applying for a job with a disability.
This is why we’ve compiled 10 tips to equip you with the knowledge you need to be successful while applying for jobs with a disability.
1. Know your rights
Before beginning your job search, it’s important to inform yourself about your employment rights. Although there are variances depending on where you live, most developed countries have legislation in place to protect the rights of people with disabilities.
For example, in the UK, the Equality Act not only prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities, but encourages them to treat disabled candidates more fairly. Therefore, it’s important to understand in advance what legal rights you have as a candidate with disabilities.
2. Consider your needs
There are various types of disabilities, including physical, intellectual, sensory and mental illness. So, when it comes to deciding on a job, it’s important to consider your specific type of disability. Certain jobs that are well-suited for one type of disability may not be for another.
For example, if a job seeker has mobility issues, a physically demanding job, such as a carpenter, may not be fitting. However, for a person with a mental health condition, such as depression, being able to work with their hands may be a perfect fit. So, it’s important to consider your needs and interests in a role.
3. Look for flexible jobs
Although not all people with disabilities require flexibility, many do. If you have a chronic illness, you may need a more flexible schedule to attend medical appointments. Another example is that people with mental health conditions may require flexibility to care for their mental health.
Therefore, if your specific circumstances require flexibility, you’ll find that there are many jobs that provide this. Remote jobs or roles with flexible hours are becoming more and more common. In fact, flexible jobs can be found in nearly every sector, including trades, technology, business, science, online education, communications and more.
4. Find inclusive employers
While all employers should ideally strive to be inclusive, some prioritize it more than others. Certain companies have even integrated hiring workers with disabilities into their Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.
Some examples of companies that have a reputation for fostering particularly accessible and inclusive work environments are Accenture, 3M, Salesforce and Google. However, there are many more smaller companies that are also disability-friendly. With a little research, you can find these companies and specifically target them during your job search.
5. Address employment gaps
It is common that people with disabilities may need to take time off work to tend to their health. If you have an employment gap on your résumé, there’s no need to fret. However, as it can be a red flag for employers, it is important to address it so that the recruiters are not left wondering what the reason was.
While it is not necessary to divulge too many details about the employment gap, it is generally expected that you provide an honest reason that employers would accept as valid. For example, simply stating the gap was for medical reasons is usually enough. If you were able to upskill or do any courses or activities during that time, this is also important to share.
6. Use your resources
That are various organizations that help people with disabilities find employment. These are usefully non-profit organizations that typically have connections with employers interested in hiring people with disabilities. Oftentimes, these organizations don’t only act as placement providers, but provide people with disabilities with career advice as well.
Many universities also provide resources for students or alumni with disabilities. Oftentimes, universities will have a specific department for disability support. However, if your university doesn’t have this, the career center is another university support that can be invaluable in your job search.
7. Emphasize your abilities
To get a job with a disability (and without a disability!), it’s key to focus more on what you can do as opposed to any limitations. Therefore, highlight your strengths and skills as much as possible in your application and interview.
The best way to demonstrate your abilities is by stating facts and figures. Quantifying any relevant past achievements is a great way to emphasize your abilities. For example, if you are applying for a graduate engineering role and recently graduated from an engineering program with a high GPA, mentioning this achievement shows your aptitude.
8. Only disclose what is necessary
Not all people with disabilities require accommodations at work. Therefore, make sure to only disclose what is necessary about your disability and what is relevant to the job. For example, if someone has mobility limitations but works from a desk in an office, they may not require any accommodations to fulfill the duties of the role.
If a person has autism and works as a home-based software engineer, they may also not require any accommodations to do the job. So instead of focusing too much on your disability, it’s more advisable to only discuss aspects that are relevant to the role and necessary to disclose.
9. Be confident
Applying for a job without a disability can be tough. So applying for a job with the additional obstacle of a disability can be even more challenging. However, a good employer will be aware of this and most likely impressed by your resilience.
Try to exude confidence during the recruitment process. One way to do this is by reflecting on your achievements and not your limitations. Achievements can be career or academic successes, but also personal difficulties that you’ve overcome.
10. Keep it brief
If you do have a disability that may require accommodations, it is best to mention this in the early stages of the recruitment process to ensure that the employer is able to provide these accommodations.
For example, if you have mobility limitations and the role includes frequent travel to meet with clients, it’s a good idea to mention this up front. However, make sure to not speak at-length about your disability. Keep it brief and try to keep the focus on your skills for the job.
Workers with disabilities can be found in various sectors and organizations around the world. And when they are in roles that avail of their strengths and abilities, workers with disabilities are just as capable as anyone else of achieving career success and satisfaction.
Since applying for jobs is oftentimes one of the biggest career hurdles, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it effectively. Make sure you remember to:
- Target companies with disability initiatives, as they are more likely to foster inclusivity and accessibility in the workplace.
- Focus on your abilities and strengths, and only disclose what is necessary when explaining a disability during the recruitment process.
- Be confident and remember that your disability doesn’t define you as a job seeker or as an employee.
By applying these tips, you’ll be able to demonstrate to prospective employers that regardless of a disability, you’re a value and asset to any company.
Do you find it difficult applying for a job with a disability? What issues do you face? Let us know in the comments below!