October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a time to focus on reducing the unemployment gap among the disabled population while simultaneously celebrating the contributions made to our economy by disabled workers.
While there are societal boundaries that still exist with some hiring managers, there are also many resources available to assist people with disabilities who are seeking employment.
Job Hiring Sites
While there are many general public hiring sites, there are also emerging sites specifically for potential employees with disabilities. They offer opportunities from employers seeking to offer more inclusive working environments, and some will even pair opportunities based on a candidate’s needed accommodations. Some examples of these sites are gettinghired.com, abilityjobs.com, and inclusively.com.
National and Local Resources
Many disability-related organizations offer job training, resume assistance, interview preparation, and even help connect employers and employees. On a National Level, this includes the Job Access Network (JAN) and the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN). Local resources may include Independent Living Centers, veteran organizations, or your regional ADA Centers.
Focus on your Skills
According to Carlos Martinez, the CEO/Executive Director of BRIDGES, a Rockland-County based advocacy organization, people with disabilities should highlight their skills during interviews. He says, “Employers will post job opportunities based on what they need, and sometimes you can’t fill 100% of that role, and that is okay. Knowing your skills and abilities helps an employer see your confidence and sometimes may motivate an employer to be flexible and modify the role enough to use the skills you bring to the table.”
Be Direct and Clear with Your Needs
Just as you should be direct and confident with your skills, you should also be direct with the accommodations you will need. Be prepared to offer clear examples, whether it’s a flexible work schedule, adaptive equipment, specific software, or other accommodation. According to Martinez, “Making the employer aware in advance and working towards making the employer a partner through clear communication is key to building a productive work environment for both the employer and the employee. This a two-way effort, and both must be clear about their needs to accomplish the job and keep the business going. People seeking accommodations must make clear why such accommodations will help them accomplish the essential duties of their job.”
While organizations (both government and NGO) are working to break down the negative preconceived notions about hiring an employee with a disability, there are many resources available to help match strong candidates with open-minded employers. We wish those employees with disabilities much success and luck in finding a good job match!