When you have a disability, be it mental or physical, it can be more difficult to navigate the world of employment. Knowing when and how to disclose your disability to a potential employer is important to ensure you avoid discrimination and also have your needs met appropriately throughout the application process.
Applying for any job requires some skill with regards to portraying your best qualities, and with a disability it’s no different. Let’s take a look at how you can best let your employer know about your disability when looking to apply for new roles.
Focus on your Strengths
The very definition of the term ‘disability’ can leave room for prejudiced assumptions. Whilst an employer is not legally allowed to discriminate against you, and you do not legally have to declare your disability, you may worry that doing so will put your application in a negative light. But for all the difficulties that a disability may bring, it can also make you a stronger, more resilient and more attractive employee for multiple reasons.
Looking through the desired skills for the role, pick out your personal strengths and try to show how well you match the profile. Give examples of times when you have shown qualities that would benefit the role, and if you do decide to disclose your disability, perhaps offer how you could do the role with reasonable adjustments.
It’s vital that you don’t lie during the application process if you need accommodations for the interview or role. Being transparent about your limitations and how you manage them is a great way to make a good first impression to your interviewers.
Look for inclusive employers
Unfortunately, not all employers are created equal. There are some companies that are far more modern than others when it comes to ensuring they have a diverse and inclusive workforce. Again, remember that no employer is able to discriminate against disability, but there are certain companies that are more open to celebrating your individuality than others. Researching potential employers policies, values and diversity initiatives can help you to scope out the most forward-thinking employers.
If you decide not to make your disability known, there are still ways to find out if the position would be suitable for you. Remember that an interview is for both parties, and it’s just as important for the employer to find out if the role would suit you as it is for you to decide if you want to work for that company.
Asking what a typical day would consist of, how flexible they are with office setups, and whether you would have to work during strict hours or a more flexible schedule, are all good questions to ask.
Know your rights
Looking for employment is stressful for everyone, potentially even more so if you live with a disability. Try to stay positive and remember that there’s no reason why you are any less capable for a suitable role than a person who isn’t disabled. Know your rights and do your best to show your potential employer why you are the perfect match for their position.
As a woman who has overcome many personal challenges in her life, Lisa promotes and celebrates diversity in the workplace, working with disadvantaged students and helping them to achieve their goals and dreams.