Navigating Your Job Search With a Disability
When you have a disability, finding a job can be intimidating. But don’t let this feeling set you back. Your disability doesn’t define you, and potential employers will see that through your impressive CV, solid cover letter and general optimism about the role.
Having a disability doesn’t mean you’re any less qualified than anyone else, and it’s important to demonstrate that. Here’s what you need to know about finding a job that’s right for you and grabbing the attention of employers.
Deciphering a job posting
When beginning your search, you want to make sure the job you’re after will be able to provide disability accommodations and offer a safe working environment for you. Understanding the responsibilities and requirements of a role can be confusing when looking through postings and being able to decode this is essential when searching for the right career. It’s important not to let excitement get in the way of things. Make sure you can actually perform the duties described in the job posting and can talk about relevant experience related to those responsibilities.
Checking career websites, networking with professionals in the field you’re interested in and attending hiring events can be a helpful way to find the right job opportunity for you. For example, if you’re looking for a job in the charity sector, networking with professionals who work in a non-profit can be a great way to jump-start your career.
Pay attention to keywords and phrases in job posting; this will help you figure out if the job is fit for you. Even though employers are required by law to accommodate those with disabilities, it’s important to find a company culture that’s accepting and supportive.
Creating the perfect CV
Once you’ve found the job, it’s time to sell your skills and wow employers. Building an impressive CV is vital to a getting the job you want. When creating your CV, make sure to follow the age-old adage, show don’t tell. It may seem obvious, but most people tend list their accomplishments in a bland, nondescript fashion. Detailing your work experiences through in-depth examples of past duties you performed will give hiring managers a more dynamic and in-depth view of your capabilities.
The question many job seekers with disabilities ask is whether or not to mention their disability in their CV. This can be tough to decide, as disclosing that information to employers may seem risky. Typically, you’ll have to mention if you have a disability or not on your application form so discussing your disability in your CV is entirely up to you. You can also explain your disability to your potential employer in your face-to-face interview, as opposed to explaining it in your CV.
You’ll want to make sure your CV is formatted correctly and looks appropriate to the job you’re applying to. The layout of your CV says as much about your qualifications as your experience does; don’t try to force too much information into a small space. It’s important to make sure everything on the page is relevant to the specific role and not just a generic one you send out for all applications.
Highlighting your skills and capabilities in your cover letter
A cover letter is the first impression you’ll make in any job application. This is a chance to showcase your accomplishments and inject a bit of personality that would otherwise be missing from your CV. There are several ways to start a cover letter, but for those with disabilities, it’s important to begin by addressing what you can bring to the company — not what you can’t.
Highlighting volunteer work and extracurricular activities can be a helpful way to demonstrate your skills as a focused and dedicated individual. This is a useful tip for anyone, but it’s especially true for those with disabilities as it makes employers focus less on your disability and more on the great work you’ve done. Be sure to phrase your accommodation requirements in positive ways such as saying, “If I’m given a screen reader on my computer, I can get the job done efficiently and effectively.”
Lastly, make sure you’ve done your research on the organisation you’re applying to. You’ll want to give off a positive and confident attitude by sharing how excited you are for the job and demonstrating why that particular job and company is right for you. Just be careful not to seem too eager; this can seem desperate to the employer.
Nailing the Interview
When preparing for an interview, the number one thing to consider is how your attitude will be perceived by employers. By staying positive and upbeat, employers will recognise that and think more highly of you. With a disability, you may think you’re less qualified than other job seekers, but this simply isn’t true. Demonstrating your strengths and abilities through concrete examples will prove to employers that you’re the best person for the job. Talk about your past work experiences and discuss how they relate to the job you’re interviewing for.
Want to know how you can boost your CV, cover letter and interview skills? There are several websites with information for job seekers with disabilities, including Disability Rights UK. The NHS also has a helpful resource guide for tips on securing a job with a disability.