Smart Job Search Tips for Applicants with Disabilities
Updated: Jul 17
Finding a job can be tough in the current economic climate. But it can also be intimidating if you have a disability, whether it’s visible to prospective employers and co-workers or not. There are ways to boost your odds of securing a job and to showcase your talents. Check out these job search tips and start applying for openings with confidence!
Form a Professional Network
Networking is often regarded as the best way to navigate into a new position. By connecting with others in your industry or those with the same skill set, you might discover new opportunities. You can network online, in person and don’t forget contacts from previous jobs, community projects and organizations you’re involved in. Networking online to build connections can be helpful, whether you are looking for full-time employment, remote work, contract work or part-time positions. LinkedIn is the largest professional networking platform so use it to your advantage. It can be a powerful tool for staying up to speed on your industry, innovators, and learn about companies and industries outside your current space.
Research Potential Employers
The good news is that disability inclusion is no longer an unfamiliar topic for most companies. Though it has taken time, many companies are abolishing harmful policies and focusing on creating more inclusive environments. So, do some research on how a company talks about diversity and disability. Do you see evidence of inclusion practices on their website? Is it easy to get an accommodation or ask for assistance if needed? Do they have an active disability recruitment program?
Exploring a company's policies and reputation can help inform your application decision. Additionally, you should look in your network to see if you have any connections that work at the company you are interested in – reach out, ask for an informational interview on what it is like to work for the company and ask them to share what they see and experiences related to disability inclusion.
Present Yourself with Pride
Some people with disabilities begin their job search feeling it will be difficult to convince a potential employer to hire them. It is important to lead with your skills and experience. Explain how you can do the job by presenting yourself as the most qualified candidate possible. Be sure to focus on your past accomplishments, educational background, ideas for your new role, and your eagerness to learn will go a long way in demonstrating to your interviewers you are the best candidate for the job.
If the topic of reasonable accommodations comes up during your interview, be clear on what you need or don’t need. It can be helpful to share what accommodations you have had in other roles and how they have helped increase your productivity. Make accommodation discussions about job performance and not about your disability.
Remember, presenting yourself confidently will show employers you are sure of yourself, your skill-set and that you will be a valued team member.
Consider Career Help
Many professionals hire a career counselor or coach to help when they’re looking to move in their industry or branch out into a new niche. Whatever your motivation, whether to simply get hired or to secure a raise or expand your education, a career counselor can help you meet those goals. From talking you up after a particularly challenging interview to helping you zero in on the best industry for your skills, a career counselor can make the job search simpler and less stressful. Plus, having someone to listen when you need advice or someone just to vent to can help on both a personal and professional level.
Finding a new job can feel stressful, especially if you feel that others may perceive your disability as some kind of barrier to success. Proving them wrong is satisfying, of course, but so is securing the job of your dreams! Go forth with confidence in your skills, abilities, and your desire to learn and grow.