5 Job Hunting Strategies for People with Disabilities

Written by Heather Gilmer & Idunn Wolfe
Graphic Design by Turner Harbert & Mary Johnson

three people and a dog with no job

Job hunting is a challenging process for everyone. But if you have a disability, you’ll tend to have a harder time than others securing jobs. Now that National Disability Employment Awareness Month is here, we recognize The Employee Revolution is also happening for those with disabilities.  

When the economy goes south, people with disabilities are often the first to be let go from their jobs. They are also the last to be considered when the economy experiences growth. And, unfortunately, the pandemic has made this situation worse. The unemployment rate was 12.6 percent in 2020 for people with disabilities — 5.3% higher than in 2019! 

If you have a disability, you know the constant fear of discrimination in the workforce. Employers may have given you a few awkward stares like you’re from another planet. Well, even if you were, don’t aliens with disabilities deserve to work too? 

So, if you’re finding it difficult to get a job with your disability, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to discover five strategies for navigating a career as a person with disabilities!

1. Focus On Your Abilities

Your disability is only a tiny part of you. So, put it aside for a moment and think, “What am I good at? What skills will encourage hiring managers to hire me?” Bragging about your unique abilities will help you stand out to employers.

Maybe you dream of working in construction, but you use a wheelchair. Obviously, you can’t climb ladders or be in confined spaces. However, this doesn’t mean that career choice needs to be thrown out the window! Are you creative and well-organized? If so, you could be an architect, BIM coordinator, or contract administrator.

Once you start focusing on the things you CAN do, rather than the things you can’t, your confidence will grow! Remember, your disability is not a sign of weakness, so don’t treat it as such. Shine your true passions, and show the employer you’re more than capable for the job!

2. Know Your ADA Rights

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law on July 26th, 1990. This law ensures people with disabilities receive equal opportunities. Hiring managers are not allowed to ask questions relating to someone’s disability. They also can’t discriminate against you if you are well-qualified for the job. But we all know this issue still exists. So, keep on fighting for those rights!

Disclosing your disability to the employer is a personal choice. However, if you require accommodations, it’s best to be upfront about it. Some people need accommodations during the interview, while others can wait until they accept the job offer. Employers must keep any information regarding your disability confidential. 

3. Set Reasonable Accommodations

One of the most valuable things you can do as someone with a disability is to advocate your needs to the employer. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to their employees with disabilities. These accommodations can help you be successful in your career. For example, someone deaf or hard-of-hearing might request a sign-language interpreter or a captioned phone for their workspace.

Employers admire those with a plan on how they’ll perform the job duties. It shows them you’ve done your research and are determined to succeed!

a job seeker sleeping at their computer desk

4. Don't Be Afraid To Educate

People with disabilities are good for business. So, if an employer seems hesitant to hire you, prove them wrong by listing the benefits you can bring to the company!

Hiring people with disabilities has the potential to improve relationships with stakeholders. It shows that your company values social responsibility, which is essential to consumers. People with disabilities also have a solid work ethic and go above and beyond expectations. They realize that finding a job is hard, and so once they’re hired, they are very appreciative.

If you’re comfortable doing so, it might also help to educate them on your own disability. After all, no one understands your disability better than you do. And if the employer still responds negatively, the job is not worth it. Go for the one where you already respected, not the one where you have to give a lesson on being respectful! That’s their parent’s job! 

5. Seek Help When Needed

You are never alone in this career journey. If you’re struggling to get a job with your disability, plenty of resources are available for you. A few of them include:

Job hunting with a disability is never easy, but there is hope! Thanks to The Employee Revolution, the job market is becoming increasingly diverse. And soon, you will find a job where you are accepted. Remember, your disability does not define your success. For more excellent career advice, please check out our blog!

Have a Super Day!