In this day and age, having a disability should not be a barrier to full-time employment. With advances in technology and progressive policies about diversity, inclusion and equality sweeping corporate culture, more and more employers are becoming educated about disabilities and understanding that they are not a detriment to productivity or bottom lines.
Though searching for a new job is never an easy task, if you have a disability, you may face added obstacles when deciding where to apply, what information to disclose and when, and anticipating inevitable interview questions about your disability. We’ve rounded up a few suggestions on how to approach the job search, and how you should prepare to ace your interview.
Research company culturesLearning which companies have progressive hiring policies in your field is a great place to start when researching where you’d like to apply. So do your due diligence when getting to know the opportunities available in your industry, and make a list of the companies that have a track record for hiring people with disabilities. Don’t feel like these are the only companies you can apply to, though – if there’s a role you want to apply for elsewhere, you should. Just be sure to have a list of questions regarding their corporate policies and cultures ready to go during your interview, so that you ensure that they will be as willing to work with you as you are with them.
Have a plan for disclosing your disabilityMany HR experts agree that you should not include information regarding your disability on your CV or in your cover letter – that those documents should by reserved solely for your professional information and achievements.
It’s when you get called for an interview that you should considering letting the HR department or the manager you will be meeting know about your disability and any accommodations or assistance you may require. They’ll appreciate you letting them know beforehand, and they’ll be better prepared to ensure that the interview environment is comfortable for everyone involved.
Anticipate potential questions regarding your disabilityWhen your interview is scheduled and you’re preparing for potential questions, you should be ready to openly discuss your disability and how it relates to the role you’re interviewing for. If you don’t already have answers to key questions about the company’s stance on hiring people with disabilities, or if you have any concerns about working there, you should also be prepared to voice those during your interview. Being open and honest will only help you, and will set the tone for your working relationship, if you’re hired and if you accept the role.
Know what you need to help you do your job effectivelyWhether it’s supplemental software, physical pieces of technology, a clear path from the lift to your desk or accommodation for a service animal, if there are specific requirements you will need to perform the role effectively, you need to know what those solutions are and communicate them clearly. Most businesses will be able to support you – and if they do not already have the means, there are government grants they can apply for in order to assist with purchasing the necessary aids. So don’t be shy or self-conscious about asking for what you need – a company who truly wants to hire you and support you will make sure they can provide those accommodations for you.
Bring samples or have examples of work readyLike any person interviewing for a new job, you should have either samples of your previous work, if applicable, or be prepared to share stories that demonstrate how you’ve found success in the workplace and the ways that you’ve worked well with a team in the past.
During your job search, remember that it’s a long process for most people, and keep in mind that you don’t have to accept a role just because it’s offered – if it’s not with a company you were comfortable with or an environment that you think will be conducive for you, you don’t have to accept. It’s more important to find the right manager and the right workplace – that way you can establish a career and not just have a job.