So you are disabled and want a Job?
I hear from too many people that being disabled is all there is for them and they can’t work. And it is true that some of them can’t work due to their disability. But many are younger or can work, but they refuse, or make excuses, to get the necessary training so they can gain employment.
So what does a disabled person need to do when searching for a job? The absolute simple truth is nothing special! That’s right, absolutely nothing special. So how do they get past the stigma of their disability? Simple, Apply on-line. And since so many job applications are on-line anymore…
One thing you have to do no matter what, you have to be a tad better than other applicants. And I’m not talking about their experience or knowledge level, although that doesn’t hurt. Being disabled, we have to be better than other applicants because if we don’t then it can be easily explained as ‘Oh they’re disabled, they can’t…, and so why teach them that if they don’t already know?’ Simplistic… maybe.
What the disabled have To Do:
There are certain items that you have to do to increase your chances of getting that job. Here is a short list of those areas;
- Pick a field in which you’re qualified for. If you can be satisfied answering phones or such jobs…
- Spell & grammar check your resume and cover letter! Unlike others, if it is error free and grammatically correct you already have an advantage over other applicants because it shows diligence. If necessary, hire a professional to write it for you or check it over for grammatical errors.
- Polish your skills. From inter-personal to typing to everything in between. By polishing your skills, you’ll have another advantage on the application, interviewing, & training sections of the hiring process.
- Dress for Success. Wear the appropriate clothes for the job you’re interviewing for. Don’t appear with torn jeans and an expletive filled shirt for a customer service position, likewise don’t wear a tie and slacks to an interview for a factory job. It may seem overly simplistic, but hiring managers will still judge you by what you are wearing. If you interview for a creative position, then a wild and crazy outfit may just work. There are many places that can get you the necessary business clothes for free, just check with a local agency that deals with your particular disability.
- Show up on time AND alone, if possible. You should always try to show up for your interview or appointment time at least 10 – 15 minutes early. And if you can go it alone… Some of you will need help in getting around the office, but if you can… then do it…
- Don’t smoke, eat, or drink before your interview. To a non-smoker it will hang on you like stink on a meat packing facility dumpster in the middle of a Missouri summer, excluding the flies of course. And then there is your breath and teeth. You don’t want to be face-to-face with the receptionist or interviewer with breath that smells like stale coffee, digested food, or tobacco. As a former smoker and a devout strong coffee lover, let me say, it’s not very appealing to be on the receiving end of doggie breath.
- Don’t fidget, play with paper, or use your phone. Sit as up-right as you can and stay calm. Don’t mess with your hair, tie, or keep arranging your papers. As for your phone, ensure that it’s on either vibrate or turned off. Nothing will turn off an interviewer faster than having your phone do its little ding-a-ling in the middle of the interview. This, along with several other things, could cost you the job. Most of us aren’t anywhere near to being that brilliant to have the interviewer over look that irritation. All that having your phone ring does is potentially tell the interviewer that you will answer your phone during working hours, which is not good.
- Have all necessary papers in order ready to hand over. If you’re blind it should be easy, we have to be organized constantly anyway. But have your references, resume’s, and other papers in order ready to hand over with no fumbling for them. Show the employer how organized you are by having the necessary papers to hand them as a non-disabled person would.
For those of us that are disabled, the economy is still on the rebound. So it may take a while to get our foot in the door… still. Add to that, the fact that companies are looking for specific talent and being very selective about whom they even call for interviews, and therefore you have to present yourself better than your competition.
The skills and pre-steps you need to take, even for a disabled person, is all the same. It’s not necessarily about the job or the competition. It’s all about how you present yourself. Something I learned while still in high school: “Walk like you have some where to go and something to do when you get there”
As much as you can, hold your head up straight, shoulders squared, & a confident demeanor & attitude, and try not to be arrogant about it. Whether they want to admit it or not, Perception is reality for any employer. What the employer perceives in your initial meeting is their reality and not much can be done to contradict it.
Getting a job in today’s marketplace is increasingly difficult for those of us that are disabled. The competition and requirements of employment leave many of us in the cold. But despite our 60% unemployment, we can still get a job doing what we want. We just have to do the little things a tad more impressively than someone else may have to.
Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear