Youthabilities - Applying For A Job
Self-Awareness and the Employer
Self-awareness is the first and the most important step in your job search process. By understanding your strengths, abilities as well as your, weaknesses and areas of improvement, you are building a stronger foundation.
In this process of self-awareness, it is important to look at how your disability relates to the position you are applying for. Once you have reviewed and researched the position, research the following on the company you are applying for?
- Is the company an ‘equal opportunity’ employer?
- Does the company produce statistics on diversity in their workplace?
- Is the company socially responsible?
In order to get a full understanding on whether or not to disclose your disability in this early stage of your job search process, analyze how your disability will impact your day-to-day job duties. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you clear as to what your skills and abilities are?
- Are your skills and abilities a good match for the job requirements?
- Have you established how your disability may affect your performance on the job?
- If yes, are there any accommodations that you will need from the employer?
- Have you prepared a positive way of disclosing your disability?
It would be nice to say that all that employers are concerned about is whether the person applying can do the job. Unfortunately, that is not always true. Employers are human too and therefore have their likes and dislikes, prejudices and fears.
There are many employers who have not or have been not aware of what it is like to work with a person with disability; they are unaware that persons with disabilities have abilities and skills that are as good as, or better than, other potential candidates. So when applying or meeting an employer, be full aware of this and be able to discuss and ‘educate’ the employer on your abilities. Most importantly, show the employer how your skills can contribute to the success of their business or company.
Disclosure: The application process
Even when employers call themselves “equal opportunity employers”, disclosing at the time of the application, whether on a form, your resume or in your cover letter, means taking a considerable risk of being put out of the running before the race has even started.
Application forms may include a question asking you to identify anything that might impair your ability to carry out the duties of the job successfully. Don’t lie! If your disability doesn’t impede your work, than by all means answer “No”. If you are unsure, leave it blank and if you do know, than you have three choices:
- leave the question unanswered, if you get invited for an interview be prepared to discuss your disability at that time
- write “would like to disclose”
- disclose (but list accommodations that you will need to get some of job requirements done)
It is possible to disclose on your cover letter / resume, though it can be hard to find a positive reason for doing so at this early stage. Disclosing on your cover letter / resume would depend on where you are in your job search process.
If you have had a little to no experience, disclosing your disability would be a much bigger risk than if you had 3 more years of experience. The reason for this is that with experience, you proven evidence of your success and it will limit the questions from an employer on whether or not you can perform certain job duties.
If you choose to disclose on your resume, try to do so in a positive manner, for example: “My communication skills and telephone manner are excellent, as you will see from my references. However I have a hearing impairment and would require the use of a TTD phone. These are easy to install and I would be happy to discuss their use during an interview.”
If you choose to disclose in your cover letter, you will need to emphasize on your skills, strengths and your ability to do your job.
For example, you could say, “As you see in my resume, I have had extensive work experience in the Banking industry and with working with clients. When working as an Account Manager, I was instrumental in providing sound customer service skills while also managing key classified information in a timely manner. The oversize, high-resolution screen compensates well for my visual impairment. Perhaps you are already aware that Vocational Rehabilitation Services will sometimes help toward the cost of such items, that that Revenue Canada allows Capital Cost Allowances of 20% on such items.”
See chart below to view other reasons to or not to disclose:
Time of disclosure
Reasons for disclosing
Reasons for disclosing
Reasons for not disclosing
|At the time of application
|| If disability is asset to application.
Accomplishments show that disability does not affect work
|| If disability is an asset to application
|| If disability will not affect you on the job Risk of having application discounted because of disability