November 18, 2019, by Leah Sharpe
5 Job Hunting Tips For Graduates With A Disability
By Christian Jameson-Warren, Employability Education Projects Officer
1. Be clear about the possible implications of your disability in the workplace
Managing a disability or health condition in employment may require thinking about strengths and challenges in a different way to at university. Employers have a legal responsibility to make reasonable adjustments so that a disabled employee is not disadvantaged by their disability, but they may not necessarily understand what you may need unless you clearly explain it to them. The following prompts may help:
– What adjustments and support did you have in place at university? e.g. additional time to complete tasks, or support from student services
– From this, how might your disability affect your employment? e.g. if you find it difficult to talk to people you don’t know, or if it takes longer to read and produce written documents (reviewing the tasks in relevant job descriptions can help with this)
– What kinds of adjustments and support might be helpful in the workplace? e.g. increased support and regular meetings with a line manager, agreed time off for support or medical meetings, a visit before starting employment, or quiet places to work
Once you have worked out the possible implications of your disability in the workplace, you can look at how to share your disability(s) with an employer.
2. Identify the best strategy to discuss your disability with an employer
It’s entirely up to you at what point to discuss your disability with an employer – or if at all. If you think you would benefit from adjustments to an interview process it’s a good idea to talk about your disability at this early stage; in other instances you may want to wait until after you’ve been offered a job before discussing reasonable adjustments when completing new-starter paperwork.
The employer will most likely only want to know about your disability in relation to the workplace – so a short, concise explanation of where you might need help and why, is fine.
Remember that while talking about disability with an employer can be nerve-wracking, there have been instances where making a reasonable adjustment for one employee has led to a productive change in policy for other staff.
3. Identify any concerns you may have
You may worry that your disability is a serious barrier to finding suitable employment, which can lead to negative thoughts and emotions that will impede your job search. To start to address this, write down your specific worries, such as struggling in interviews or not being able to do a particular task well enough. Once you have identified your concerns, you can start to make a plan to address each one individually.
4. Engage with as many people and resources as possible
This can include the Careers and Employability Service or using social media (e.g. LinkedIn and Twitter) to find people who are disability champions in your chosen career field. Even if you don’t know them personally, it’s a great idea to reach out and ask for advice on questions you may have as a disabled candidate in that field.
It’s also worth identifying people who can offer you moral support for when the job search is hard, such as close friends or family members.
5. Keep a long-term perspective
It’s normal for people to change jobs and careers throughout their lifetime – and what interests you now may not in five or ten years’ time. Consequently, don’t put pressure on yourself to get the perfect job or worry that your disability will prevent you from achieving it. Instead, identify your main skills and attributes and think about how you use these to make the biggest contribution in the workplace. Doing something you’re good at and making a difference are key factors in job satisfaction – and can also help you to accept any ‘weaknesses’ you have.
For further information on disability support services at the University, visit the website.