Many companies proudly display that they are an ‘Equal Opportunity Employer.’ But what does this really mean? It is supposed to mean that they do not discriminate based on age, sex, marital status, gender, disability, etc. Though many companies provide an equal opportunity, those of us with disabilities have more disadvantages when applying for a new job or trying to appeal to an employer. This is why it is more mportant than ever for job seekers with disabilities to stand out in the best way possible! When we walk through the door, whether they admit it or not, many potential employers will create assumptions and stereotypes if they see an applicant with a physical disability. It is our responsibility as the applicant to turn those perceptions around and correct any incorrect assumptions by putting our best foot forward!
If you’re on the job hunt, here’s a few tips to help you stand out in a great way!
Get your resume and cover letter in shape! A resume and cover letter are often the first step in getting you through the door. It’s the stepping stone to an interview and your place to shine and make sure you include the best features about yourself, the skills you have and your best work experiences. A resume speaks for ourselves often before an employer finds out we have a disability so this is the place to shine and really highlight your accomplishments before any preconceived notions may be formed once your disability is revealed. Make sure your resume is clear and easy to read. Check to make sure you are using one font, that the margins and alignment are perfect and there are no spelling mistakes. Do a Google search to find resume writing tips. Have a friend or family member double check your resume and cover letter. An extra set of eyes can often catch even the smallest of mistakes.
Set expectations with your employer. Be up front about your needs and what you are looking for in an employer. Remember, many employers are limited for legal reasons in coming out and asking direct questions about your disability. Because of this, it is only natural for many of them to make assumptions and draw their own conclusions. It’s your responsibility as the applicant to set those expectations for the employer so they do not draw incorrect assumptions. Sometimes incorrect assumptions can lead the employer to feel that an applicant with a disability would be less valuable than one without, so take the reins on this one and be as up front as possible about your needs and what you can bring to the position.
Stay Positive. Reassure a potential employer that you will be an asset, not a liability. If confronted with difficult questions about how you would handle the job or doubts from a potential employer that you cannot handle the job duties without reasonable accommodation, ensure the employer that you applied for this position for a reason. If an employer is worried that you will need to miss work due to your disability but you have an excellent attendance record, make sure to highlight that! Keep all your answers to a potential employer’s questions positive. A positive person brings a highly desired skill to a workplace and that is something that is attractive to any employer!
Highlight the advantages that your unique perspective can bring to a potential employer. Those of us with disabilities can offer a unique perspective and more creative ways of thinking due to our unique experiences. Show it off! What employer wouldn’t want to take a chance on an applicant who can bring a positive perspective to their business?
What are some things you have done to stand out to an employer in a positive way or that helped you land the job? Share in the comments!
Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons