Employment services for job seekers and employers in Oregon

How to Find a Job When You Have a Disability

It can be challenging to find a job in today’s market. If you have a disability, it can be even more difficult than usual to find employment.

According to the U.S. government, an individual with a disability is a person who “has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.

A qualified employee or applicant with a disability is an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question.”

Unfortunately, there are some employers out there who make assumptions about people with disabilities, even if the disability wouldn’t affect their performance in the prospective job. Most of their assumptions could be stereotypes. Just because you have a disability in one area doesn’t always mean that disability will carry over into other areas – like your job responsibilities.

Are you having trouble finding a job with a disability? Here are some tips on how to make the most of your job search:

1- Focus on your skills

This is something that is not specific to those with disabilities. Every job seeker should do this! When interviewing for a position, focus on your skills and how they apply to the job responsibilities. Your skills should be front and center in the interview – not your disability. Speak confidently about your qualifications when explaining how your past experience and knowledge make you an asset to the team. Provide examples from past positions. You can also reference relevant skills you have acquired from volunteering projects or hobbies.

2- Speak positively

It’s possible that certain circumstances will come up in an interview that may require you to discuss your disability. For example, if you happen to be in a wheelchair and the job at hand would require you to reach certain areas of a building, explain that you need a ramp if there is not one present, but then you will be fine to proceed. Don’t linger on the fact that something might be more difficult for you. Explain, in a confident manner, how you will accomplish the task instead. Do your best to discuss your processes in a positive light, especially when referring to your disability. This will assure your potential employer that your disability will not hinder your work performance. If they had any doubts, your good attitude will help them to vanish.

3- Do your research

There are many resources available to assist workers with disabilities. Visit the Job Accommodation Network website for guidance on workplace accommodations for a variety of disabilities. For job seeker resources and information about the Americans With Disabilities Act, visit The U.S. Department of Labor website. For even more resources, visit this page on the Learning Disabilities Association of America website. Still not sure where to start? Consider partnering with a recruiter. They can serve as your career advocate and help you find the position that would be the best fit.

Next time you need to find a new career, keep these tips and tools in mind so you are best prepared for your search. In your next interview, remember to speak confidently about your qualifications and demonstrate your abilities, and you will help erase the stigma surrounding disabilities in the workforce.

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