Searching and applying to positions can be a daunting task if you’re looking for work while living with a disability. The challenges to finding employment, including limited support, inaccessibility and the stigma still attached to disability, add to the already stressful task of finding a new job.
Consider these tips for finding employment that’s right for you.
- Evaluate Your Skills – Keep in mind the range of skills you have and the value you can bring to a position. Think about your education and any work experience you have. What soft skills did you develop in your jobs? What responsibilities did you have? How can these be applied to future employment? Frame everything in a positive light. Don’t focus on what you can’t do but consider the things you can do. If you need assistance in certain areas of your work, advise the hiring manager that you can carry out certain tasks effectively with access to support. This keeps the attention on the tasks you can do, rather than framing your disability as a hindrance that will negatively affect your work.
- Starting your job search. – Take advantage of online resources like LinkedIn and online job boards to browse job postings, filtering them by location, salary and skill set. Many job search sites cater to remote work, something that’s increasingly popular and well-suited to persons with disabilities.
- Develop a Strong Personal Brand – This is a powerful way to get noticed on social media sites like LinkedIn and greatly improves your chances of being seen by companies looking for people with your skills and abilities. One of the first things is to prepare a standout resume. This should include key elements and be tailored to each individual job you apply for. Make sure it consists of these elements:
- Name and contact information
- A summary or professional objective
- Work history or volunteer and internship experience
- Formal education, certifications, professional memberships and training
- Soft skills and technical skills
- Professional achievements and awards
- Additional information (special skills, professional interests, etc.)
These days, virtual job interviews are widespread, so make sure your internet connection and computer are all running smoothly before you connect for a virtual meeting. If you need any accommodations for your interview, let the interviewer know beforehand so that they can provide the appropriate support.
- Use The Job Search Resources Available – There are plenty of resources out there to help individuals with disabilities find work, so take full advantage of them to optimize your job search. The Canadian Government offers support to job seekers with disabilities through different institutions and platforms like the Job Bank and websites such as odenetwork.com, where you can search for disability-friendly opportunities.
- Should You Disclose Your Disability? – Fear of discrimination means that many people don’t disclose their disability when looking for work. There is no “correct” approach regarding disclosing a mental or physical disability. As long as you can perform the job safely, it ultimately comes down to whether you feel comfortable disclosing. If telling a hiring manager about your disability will help them set you up for success with support and tools, then it might be a good idea to let them know. If you don’t think that your disability will have any effect on your job or require any accommodation from the employer, perhaps you’d feel more comfortable not disclosing that information to them. Think about it and do what feels right for you.
- Volunteering – Volunteering is an amazing way to get real-world experience in charities, non-profit organizations or even branches of Government. Virtual volunteering is on the rise, with opportunities to work all over Canada as a mentor, a marketing assistant, a data assistant, and much more. Check out volunteer.ca for a complete list of virtual and in-person volunteer vacancies.
Volunteering gives you valuable work experience and shows future employers that you take the initiative and actively seek opportunities. Employers will love seeing how you took control of your career from the beginning!
- Think About Your Needs as a Job Seeker – As a person with a disability searching and applying for jobs, prioritize the support you need and the opportunities you think will open doors for you in the future. Communicate clearly with any Employment Counselors you are working with about the help you might require in a certain position. Be clear about the new perspectives and experiences you can bring to a company as an employee with a disability. Thinking about your needs also includes your financial needs, which could be different than those of other job seekers. If you receive an offer that doesn’t make sense financially, consider talking to the hiring manager about this to see if you can negotiate a better salary that will not have a negative impact on your life.
- Be Confident in Your Ability and Value as a Candidate – Don’t give up even when feeling overwhelmed by the job-seeking process! The value that individuals with disabilities bring to companies all over Canada is impossible to measure. Feel confident in your ability to do a fantastic job once you land the position you’ve been looking for!
If you haven’t connected with an Employment Consultant at Job Skills, NOW is the time to get that one-on-one support you can use as you move through the new way of working. Call Job Skills toll-free at 1-866-592-6278 to connect to one of JS’s experts.
Job Skills has more than 40 online workshops to assist you in your career exploration and job search situation. Register to participate in the online ‘Diversity in the Workplace’ workshop on February 8, 2022, 10:00 am – 11:00 am. Watch for the other dates and times to register for any of our online workshops, as well as lots of great links and resources to assist you!