Finding a job is a normal activity for most adults, because it’s essential to earn an income and be productive in society. When you have a disability, especially cerebral palsy, finding an employer to hire you isn’t easy. Hiding a physical disability is nearly impossible, and a physical difference is the first attribute someone notices.
How does someone with a disability find employment? When does a person with a disability tell the potential employer about their disability? Hopefully, this column will help you do your absolute best to try to get that employer to give you an opportunity.
Do you have a résumé? To find a job, the first thing you’ll need is an attractive one-page résumé. Some might ask if you can have two pages, and the answer is yes, but only if you have a really outstanding reason to do so. I advise you not to put your disability anywhere on the résumé. You don’t want to give anyone an opportunity to discriminate before even meeting you. I learned this through my own résumé, and I noticed that I get many more responses without any indication of my disability on it.
List as many credentials and as much proof of education as you have. Employers want to see that you are capable of handling the job. But, most importantly, you want to display any advantage over other applicants. The more educated you are, the better your hiring potential will be. Bring or send professional reference letters from people who confirm that you can accomplish what you’re saying you’ll accomplish.
Before going to an interview, don’t forget to practice. Interviews can be extremely nerve-racking and intimidating. At interviews, you are basically selling yourself and what you have to offer. When you’re on the spot, you might not remember all of the amazing qualities that you have. Practice really does make perfect, and you’ll feel less stressed when you go for the actual interview.
Sooner or later, your potential employer will find out about your disability. Only after you secure an interview should you disclose your disability, if needed. For example, if you use a wheelchair, it’s important to know if the job location is wheelchair-accessible. Now is the time to ask, and it gives you a gentle way to prepare them that you have a disability.
During the interview, you’ll want to be prepared to discuss how you can perform your job with your disability. Be honest and direct and give solid answers so that they have no reason to use your disability against hiring you. Educate yourself on laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires reasonable accommodations in hiring and employment. Always speak professionally and be polite.
Dress for the interview with success in mind. Appearances mean almost everything in a job interview, so wear your best professional outfit. Make sure the outfit fits properly, looks good, feels comfortable, and has suitable colors. Make sure your hair and body are clean and you look your absolute best. Remember the key is to give the potential employer no reason to not to hire you.
After an interview, follow up with a thank-you card by email and regular mail. Being grateful shows the employer how much you want the job. As you wait to hear about the job, keep applying and going on interviews. Going on interviews helps you to find the perfect job for you, and, hopefully, the employer who will say yes!
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.