Focus on Your Abilities and Accommodate Your Challenges
Jobs for people with disabilities do exist. But people with many different types of disabilities often find job search a frustrating process that creates unforeseen barriers. You can sometimes feel that your skills and abilities are being ignored and that people are looking only at your challenges. Even if you feel this way, don’t give up because there are many ways to find success. By learning how to positively focus on your abilities and finding ways to accommodate your challenges, you can build confidence in yourself. Then you can present yourself well to employers and show them your abilities and overcome your barriers.
The most important way make a successful transition into the workforce is to recognize your skills and abilities, find a field of work where you can use those and then find jobs within that field where your disabilities have the least effect on your work.
As you are developing your skills and abilities, learn about how you can use them best:
Carry out informational interviews with people. Ask them how they think your disabilities could affect their work. Discuss ways that you could help deal with those challenges successfully on the job.
Read a variety of job postings to see which jobs you might be able to use your skills and abilities in – and which job requirements could be difficult to meet with your challenges. Use these requirements to find new ways to deal with your challenges.
Volunteer as a way to network with workers and employers. Ask them to honestly tell you whether your challenges might be a barrier to them hiring you.
From these experiences, learn how to find employers who are accepting of you and flexible in letting you work to overcome your challenges. Discover ways to present your skills and abilities to these employers and to minimize your disabilities.
Find support through the process
Support workers who know and help people with similar disabilities to yours can help you find ways to best develop your experience, best present yourself and best accommodate your challenges. They can provide a number of good ways to help you build your confidence and overcome the frustration:
Mentorship can help you meet people with similar challenges who have found ways to deal with them. Mentors can be good examples of what you can achieve and have a real understanding of what you may be feeling.
Job shadowing can help you learn from people who have experience in your chosen field of work. The process can help you learn about daily challenges so that you can find ways to accommodate them. That way, you can present these ideas to employers who might mention those challenges when you are applying for jobs.
Support programs can teach you new ways to accommodate your challenges can help you overcome some of them before you apply for jobs. Then you can show employers that you are ready, willing and able to minimize your disabilities and maximize your abilities.
Present yourself well
When the time comes to apply for jobs, it is important that you highlight your skills, abilities and experience and that you are open and honest about your challenges. Then, employers will not be surprised when they meet you and see your disabilities or learn about them later. Employers can be confident hiring you and knowing that you can do the job as well or better than someone without your challenges if you do a few things:
Make sure to properly disclose your disabilities. If people are learning about you from your resume, include a small section after work experience that describes your challenges and how you deal with them on the job. If you have found unique ways to accommodate your challenges on the job, then include something in your objective and work skills. If you are introduced to people before they see your resume, mention your challenges and your accommodations during your first conversation.
Write something to explain your challenges and accommodations to include in your portfolio and to take with you to interviews. If employers ask about your challenges during the interview, present this to them and explain how you deal with your challenges.
Give some examples and references of your accommodations. Ask for a reference from someone who has seen you create and use accommodations effectively on the job. Give any employers who seem concerned about your challenges the name of this reference. These things show extra skills and creative abilities on the job that can create a special advantage for you over other applicants.
Apply for or offer to do part-time employment first with employers, to show them your true skills on the job, as well as giving you an opportunity to adapt your accommodations to specific jobs.
Career planning and employment can offer different challenges to people with disabilities more than others. It can take some time, but finding ways to gain experience, build upon your skills and abilities and accommodate your challenges can actually give you some unique skills that you can use during your entire career and throughout your life. That can lead to success as you confidently focus on your abilities and minimize your challenges.