Starting a Job Search

Regardless of your disability status or what type of job you are looking to secure, the first step in finding a job is creating an action plan. Here’s how to get started.

Focus on your abilities – not your disability

A core component of any job search is a skills assessment. You will want to assess your skills and the types of jobs that you can map out with these in mind. Your resume should reflect your career objectives and skills clearly.

Target online job boards that cater to disabled Americans

Many online job boards now cater to specific job candidates, such as those with disabilities. By targeting your online job search to these job boards you will be better able to determine the types of jobs and employers who are seeking candidates like you. Take some time to review the skills and requirements employers are including in their job ads, and determine if you are eligible for specific jobs. This will also help you tailor your resume based on these requirements.

Look at government or government-subsidized Jobs

The Federal government recognizes that individuals with disabilities have a right to full and fair considerations for any job for which they apply. And most U.S. Government agencies have a special recruiter for disabled people. For information about job availability in a particular agency, you can find a recruiter through the U.S Government’s Selective Placement Program Directory.

Determine if you will or will not disclose your disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has leveled the playing field for disabled Americans, with provisions that make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against prospective job applicants with a disability, barring that the candidate has the qualifications for the position.

If your disability is visible, you may have to address this directly with the interviewer. Take a close look at the job requirements and determine if your disability impedes in any way your ability to do the job. If you will not be able to lift heavy materials, for instance, and this was listed as one of the job requirements, you should disclose this during the interview. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to their workplace environment. This includes ramps, compliant restrooms and parking, modifying equipment, and more.

If your disability is not visible, disclosure of your disability becomes more of a choice. You can choose to discuss this during the pre- or post-offer stage; however, if you do require accommodations you will need to discuss this with the employer so that they can work to have them in place once you begin your new position.

Join Networking Groups

Lastly, you can’t discount the importance of networking. If you have not built up your networking group, build one now - both online and off. Friends, family, civic organizations, to online networking forums such as LinkedIn, can connect you to job opportunities and people within your community. Recruiting experts say that networking is one of the best ways to secure a job.