04 December 2014

Job Applicants with Disabilities

DATE: Thursday, 4 Dec 2014 Image: The Accessible Icon was created by Sara Hendren and Brian Glenney.

I cannot imagine what it means not being able to see, to hear, to walk, what it means to have chronic pain, have difficulties learning, or suffer from severe depression. A disability certainly doesn't make it easier to find a good job.

If you are a disabled job applicant, what should you keep in mind?

1: Employers hire people because they want to solve a problem, not create a new one. Just as any other applicant you must demonstrate at all steps in the application process that you are the right person for the job.

2: I am often asked if as a disabled applicant you should disclose your disability in the application process. Opinions vary, but my answer is this: Yes, address your disability in your cover letter and discuss how with reasonable accommodation your disability will have no or little effect on your job performance. (The purpose of resume and cover letter is to get you the interview. The purpose of the interview is to get you the job.)

3: Once you are invited to an interview the employer has determined that you can do the job in principle. All that remains is to see whether they like you. The interview is thus the place to demonstrate that your disability does not interfere with your everyday job function.

4: You can never exclude the possibility of discrimination; prejudice and discrimination are facts of life, and for all of us. But don't make the mistake to take repeated rejections as evidence of discrimination against you as a disabled person. By far more applicants are being rejected than are being hired. It's tough out there.

NOTES AND REFERENCES

Statistics Canada (2014), Study: Persons with disabilities and employment http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/141203/dq141203a-eng.htm?cmp=mstatcan (Accessed: 3 Dec 2014)

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