DISABILITY PERSPECTIVE-Living with a disability means accepting that some things in your life are going to be harder, but it doesn’t mean accepting anything less when it comes to establishing a meaningful, profitable career.
Whether you’re looking for a first real job, a gig to tide you over while you find something better, or your long-term career, here are some tips for those living with a disability on finding gainful employment.
What kind of job is right for you?
To answer this question, you must be both realistic and dream big. On one hand, you have to be logical about your particular disability. If you can’t do something or won’t enjoy it because of accessibility issues, be honest with yourself. But keep in mind that people with disabilities are often too hard on themselves and limit their search. It’s a psychological thing you must overcome. You need to be confident. There are plenty of jobs available to you, and there are safeguards in place to ensure companies make reasonable accommodations to suit your disabilities.
A variety of options
If you don’t know what you’re looking for exactly, or you need some help sorting through your options, it may help to first consult a job search resource like Ability Jobs. To get you started, consider jobs that are rising in popularity and conducive to those with all types of disabilities: pharmaceutical sales rep, management consulting, IT support, programming, marketing, graphic design, and ecommerce sales.
Your resume is everything
Despite the various laws protecting those with disabilities in the employment sector and the best efforts of well-intentioned hiring managers, you may still suffer some inherent bias due to your disability. It’s vital that your resume be a shining example of not only what you’ve done but your potential to be a valued member of the team you wish to join.
Writing a good resume involves being clear and concise (while still listing all pertinent information), highlighting accomplishments (not just past job duties), crafting a resume specific to the position (no generic resumes), and catching the hiring manager’s eye with a well-rounded career summary section at the lead. If you need a little help, try using online resume templates. With these sites, you can choose ready-to-use templates for the perfect resume structure and also get assistance in writing out each section.
Give an interview that leaves them dying to hire you
A resume can only show so much of your skill and ability. If you nail the interview, you can almost guarantee at least final consideration for the position. First, remember to dress the part. First appearances matter. Acing interviews is all about prep. While there will be some interview questions you can’t anticipate, many of them will be ones you’ve heard before. It’s also about not appearing too canned in your presentation. All the small talk and conversational tangents before, after, and during the strict “interview” part of the interview are just as important. Relaxed and confident is the posture you want to have at all times.
Finally, above all else, remember this: In all stages of the process — searching, resume building, interviewing, etc. — it’s important that you always focus on your abilities, not your disabilities. Even if a task requires that you have some sort of assistance or modification, that still counts as an ability. Highlighting your capabilities and underscoring your value shows perseverance and adaptability.
(Patrick Young writes from personal experience. He is disabled, lives in Los Angeles and is a CityWatch contributor.) Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams