In this section:
- Preparing for the job
- Job readiness and job matching
- The role of further education and training
- Get beyond tasks
- Getting started
- Preparing for the Interview
Preparing for the job
Like other job seekers, people with disabilities who are searching for employment must:
- have a clear idea of the type of job they wish to pursue
- consider what type of work environment best suits them
- use their personal and professional networks as a key component of their job search.
Individual with disabilities sometimes require more support in their job search, and the process may be more intensive and deliberate. Issues such as the decision to disclose a disability to a potential employer require careful consideration.
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The issue of job readiness and job matching
Programs and services for people with disabilities have often focused on the concept of job readiness, spending months or even years preparing an individual for employment. However, one thing that has been proven consistently is that professional “experts” are poor predictors of who will and won’t succeed in employment.
Instead of worrying about job readiness, the focus should be on job matching, that is, finding a job environment and description that suits the current interests, support needs, personality, and skills of the individual with a disability. Anyone can work provided that they have a job that matches interests, skills, lifestyle and support needs.
As advocate Gerry Provencal once said, “We’re far too patient with the passage of time for people with disabilities. Time is as precious for a person with a disability as it is for all of us.”
The role of further education and training
The emphasis on job matching should not take away from the opportunity to enhance the job skills of an individual. People with disabilities, like others, may require training to reach work goals. In fact, training often promotes skill development and provides increased job prospects, not to mention increased wages.
Get beyond tasks
For people with disabilities, job development often focuses exclusively on an individual’s ability to perform specific tasks. Yet the job performance of many people — with or without disabilities — is dependent on how well they fit into the social work environment.
When considering successful employment opportunities, consider:
- What environments does the individual enjoy?
- In what environments has he or she succeeded?
- What social skills does he or she bring to the work environment?
- In what environments would personality and social skills be considered an asset? For example, a customer service director would value a friendly, outgoing applicant while a quiet person might be better off doing clerical work.
- What types of work environments should be avoided?
When a job seeker with a disability is ready to begin contacting employers, the employment specialist should work with the job seeker to consider a number of issues.
- Will the job seeker be “screened in” or “screened out” by the usual hiring process (application, testing, interviewing)?
- Does the job seeker make a positive first impression?
- Can the person communicate verbally?
- Can the person act as a good advocate for his or her work goals?
- Does the person require accommodations for the interview or the job?
- Will the person fit into pre-existing opening, or will there be a need for job restructuring?
- Does the person want to be represented to employers by staff?
- Does the person wish to disclose his or her disability to employer?
- What are the implications of disclosing the disability?
- Is the disability readily apparent to potential employers?
Preparing for the Interview
The job seeker should practice good interviewing techniques and be prepared to address disability-specific issues that may arise in the job seeking process.
The Americans with Disabilities Act clearly prohibits an employer from asking about a disability prior to an offer of employment.
Consider how disclosing a disability may impact the hiring process.
Making a positive impression on employers.
Like any job seeker, people with disabilities should be prepared to “sell” themselves in an interview. In situations where disclosure will occur, the applicant must be prepared to explain how they will be able to perform the job and how he or she will be an asset to the organization.
The job seeker should be prepared to handle several scenarios — including inappropriate inquiries about the person’s disability — in a way that has the least possible negative impact on the interview.