Success in Employment: It Takes Work

The process of finding employment can be discouraging for anyone, and when you have the added layer of a disability or health condition, it is even more difficult.  I hope the following information is helpful.

The first thing to consider when trying to find a job is what type of work you’d like to do, so career exploration is vital.  It is also necessary to find work that fits your abilities and your limitations.  Part of the exploration process is determining which limitations you could overcome with enough desire and practice.  This process can help you develop self-confidence.  I haven’t fully comprehended the breadth of my own disability and how it affects so many aspects of my life.  I am still figuring it out.      

Another important factor is to learn what your rights are related to your disability in the workplace.  Any interview question that could be used to discriminate against you is not allowed, unless it’s necessary for the specific job.  Employers can’t ask you about your age, disability, or medical issues in a job interview.  However, they can ask you questions along the lines of, “Can you do the functions listed in the job description?” or “How will you do the job functions?”  This gives you an opportunity to explain how you’ve succeeded in other settings.  Be intentional about how much you reveal in the interview, and keep things positive.

U.S. law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and job applicants with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or significant expense for the employer.  A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are usually done to help a person with a disability apply for a job or perform the duties of a job.  When I was an intern at my local library, someone else shelved the books even though that was in the job description.  I also used the online catalog to find themed display books but couldn’t go get them from the shelf, so someone else did that part.

Often, our best chance of finding employment is through networking.  Networking means somebody knowing somebody who knows about an opening, and they also know you and your abilities.  I got this job writing blog posts through networking. Also, my family moved to Kentucky because of an opening my father heard about through a colleague; that is networking. My brother got his first job when he was approached in church that a warehouse was hiring shippers. In other words, use your already present support system in your efforts to find employment.

I want to close this blog post by saying you have value as a human being whether you are employed or not. Be realistic with yourself and explore possibilities. Develop confidence within yourself of your value and abilities, and employers will see that.  Work hard to develop the skills you need and work hard in your job.  That goes a long way toward being successful in employment.  If people are unsure of your abilities, take delight in kindly proving them wrong.  You matter and you can contribute, no matter your disability or health condition.

For more information about applicable laws, workplace accommodations and disability discrimination, you can explore the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) website.

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