Top Tips for Job Seekers with Disabilities


Whether you’re revamping your career or just getting started, job searching can be an intimidating proposition.  As someone with a disability, circumstances can seem particularly daunting.  However, there are numerous great resources for securing that perfect next step in your career.  Read on for practical tips and advice to help you land the job of your dreams.


Prime prospects


No matter where you are in your career, deciding on the next step in your path can be a tough challenge.  How you choose will impact your short-term and long-term future, and obviously, you want to make progress toward your goals.  It’s important to define your goals to help determine your best direction.  For instance, if you want to become a CFO one day, finding a position bookkeeping with a company that will pay to further your education could be a plus.  There are nearly endless possibilities! 


Do some soul searching to narrow things down.  If you’re rethinking your direction and struggling to find the right fit, taking a career quiz can help you decide what fits your personality type and work style best.  There are also terrific websites offering resources for job seekers with disabilities, and you should use all the tools at your disposal to forge a suitable direction.


Shine at interviews


Whatever direction you select, ensuring you sparkle at interviews is the best way to raise your confidence and broaden your choices.  Just as it is for all job hunters, your presentation is the key.  As Plexus recommends, developing a brilliant elevator pitch can catch the attention of interviewers.  Prepare to explain your passions and goals in a nutshell, and what it is about you that will uniquely contribute to their company.  Brush up on common interview questions so you have a good feel for what to expect, and be familiar with what territory is off limits to interviewers. 


You might be wondering if and when to approach the subject of your disability with a prospective employer.  One suggestion is to mention a visible disability on the phone when you are making arrangements for the interview, such as inquiring what entrance is accessible, or where the accessible parking area is located.  If your disability is not visible, you might wish to hold off mentioning it unless you need special accommodations, and then it can be a bargaining chip in your negotiations. 


The Muse recommends accepting interviews at jobs you decide you don’t even want, since it’s a chance to polish your skills.  Think of it as a dress rehearsal, and take each interview you’re offered.  Be forthright and unapologetic, and focus on all you have to bring to a potential employer. 


Make a great first impression


Interviewers make a snap judgment of candidates the moment they enter the room.  With that in mind, pay special attention to your appearance for the event.  Dress appropriately for the environment, and if in doubt, select an outfit a step above what you would expect to wear for the prospective position.  Be neat and well-groomed, and unless the job is in a fashion-oriented sector, select quiet and conservative styling and accessories.  You want the interviewer to focus on you and what you say, and not to be distracted by flashy jewelry or an edgy haircut. 


Prep your paperwork


Just like your interview, your resume and cover letter should present your best qualities to prospective employers.  If you have a spotty work history, one recommendation is to focus on what you did during those time frames, and remember to be positive.  Volunteer work, family or personal obligations, or continuing education are a few suggestions.  Avoid apologizing, and you can always address things with more detail in your cover letter.  Have extra copies of those documents ready to hand out at your interview just in case the interviewer misplaced the original. 


Finding the right next step is challenging no matter what your circumstances are.  Prepare thoughtfully, and present yourself well.  You’ll have that dream job in no time!