Photo of Izzie seated at a work station holding an iced coffee, in her Quantum Rehab Power Wheelchair

Seeking Employment with a Disability

Whether you are seeking your first job or a new job, seeking employment can be daunting especially when you have a disability. Applying, interviewing, accepting the job, and ensuring employers provide reasonable accommodations during the hiring process and while on the job can cause people with disabilities to feel overwhelmed and not capable of work. But that is far from the truth, competitive employment is for everyone who wants to, it is all about finding the right fit.

Tips for finding the right job for you:

  • Participate in a few career exploration assessments. Career assessments are not meant to give you concrete answers but give you ideas and pathways to consider when seeking new employment. Career One Stop has great self-assessments you can complete and reflect on. When completing a self-assessment, it is best to reflect on the results you agree with, disagree with, and what surprises you about the results.
  • If you have no work experience or have not worked since becoming disabled, it may be helpful to participate in a short-term volunteer experience or an on-the-job experience through your vocational rehabilitation. On-the-job experiences, allow for you to gain experience, and assess your strengths, areas of improvement, and areas where you may benefit from reasonable accommodations or assistive technology.
  • Even if you do not meet ALL the qualifications apply for the job. Research shows that people from communities of color, women, and other marginalized groups often only apply to positions if they completely meet all qualifications. Job postings list out the “perfect” candidate, but the perfect candidate does not exist so apply because the worst thing they can say is no.
  • During the interview do not focus on the things you cannot do but on the things you can do. You are not required to disclose your disability unless you want to. When you do decide to disclose it is also best to highlight the support you need to help you do your job.
  • Employers with 15 or more employees are required by law to reasonably accommodate qualified individuals. The accommodation process should be collaborative and ongoing between the employer and employee.

According to the Employment First initiative recognized by the US Government states that, “all individuals, including those individuals with the most significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in competitive employment and community life.

Author: Izzie Bullock