These are very difficult times for everyone looking for a job, but this challenge is particularly complex for job hunters with disabilities. Unfortunately, they are still facing many obstacles and prejudices in society, which is why disabled people often feel neglected and deprived and rightfully so. Namely, people tend to make assumptions and interviewers may be uncomfortable or worried that a disability in one area will carry over into others. Still, unemployed people with disabilities should not give up trying. On the contrary, they need to keep trying until they land the job they want. If you’re one of those starting your career, looking for a career change or you’ve lost a job recently, take a look at the following tips, which should help you become a successful job applicant.
Focus on what you can do, not your disability
The main task of every job seeker is to demonstrate they are up to the job requirements. Don’t waste your time persuading the interviewer that your disability is not an obstacle for you to perform the tasks needed. Instead, offer a detailed plan regarding how you’d do it. Basically, you need to explain not only what you can do, but also how you can do it. Be realistic about your disability, but don’t make the whole interview about it.
Shift the focus away from your disability
As we’ve just mentioned, you shouldn’t discuss your disability at length. Discuss only what is necessary about it. Don’t hide it and be open about it if it’s not clearly visible. Otherwise, just briefly acknowledge it and move quickly to how you would do the work. Always focus on the job requirements and whether you can meet them.
Show that you can take initiative
Most companies are looking for employees who can work both in a team and independently. In either situation, being able to take initiative is a big plus. You can use examples from your professional or personal life. For example, let them know how you arranged your accommodation with your supported independent living (SIL) provider, or how your idea helped your previous employer to resolve an issue at work.
If you boast previous work experience or internships or volunteer work, tell the interviewer how you it went and how you coped with the challenges you had to face. You need to demonstrate you can do the job. This is important and true for everybody, but for you, it’s even more important. Every prospective employer would love to hear that they are about to hire someone who has already proven they can do the job.
Have the right amount of confidence
It’s often said that job seekers need to be confident at the job interview and that is true. However, you don’t want to come across as overconfident, because that is usually a sign of someone trying to hide a major flaw. This means that the interviewer might associate it with your disability, which may or may not be a correct assumption. The outcome of the interview, unfortunately, will be negative. This doesn’t mean you should be too modest. Just be realistic about your knowledge and skills. Before the interview, think about everything you’ve learned and can do and make sure you mention it.
Ask for what you need
We’ve already established that you need to be confident as a job seeker. You also need to know that there are laws in place that protect job seekers with disabilities, as well as employees with disabilities. You need to ask your potential employer for what you’re entitled to, but you shouldn’t ask for more than that. Know your rights, but don’t play the sympathy card.
Leverage your job experience
If you manage to show that you’ve already done the functions of the job you’re applying for, you’ll stand very good chances of getting the job. So, if you have such experience and have excelled at previous jobs, make sure to talk about it. Even better, try to quantify your achievement. For example, don’t just say you oversaw a budget and reduced spending, but be specific about it. Say something like, “I oversaw an annual budget of $100,000 and cut costs by 17%.” Needless to say, whatever you say in this respect should be also in your CV, so make sure you create a solid reference list of former bosses and co-workers who can endorse your skills and qualifications.
Though the challenge of landing a job is often great for someone with a disability, being successful at a job interview is far from impossible. However, for you to get the job you want and can do well, you need to follow these tips and be realistic about whether you can actually meet the job requirements. If you can, you’ll get the confidence you need and it will most certainly show at the interview.