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Tips for Job Seekers with Disabilities

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Whether you are a newly minted college graduate or returning to work after an extended absence, the challenges of a job search can be daunting. You want to find the position that best meets your needs and the needs of the employer, too. You must be qualified and able to sell yourself as the best applicant for the job. Here are some tips that can help you in your job search.

Take stock of your abilities. Understand your skills and strengths and learn how to market them to employees.

Understand the employment landscape. Keep on top of job and salary trends; if there’s a field where workers are needed, you’re more likely to get an interview. Request and study annual reports of select companies, and read general-interest as well as special-interest newspapers and magazines.

Be computer savvy. Increasing your technical computer skills increases your marketability in the job market. Create a website with samples of your work; this shows your computer literacy and is a place for employers to learn more about what you can do for them.

Conduct online job searches. This helps you cast a wider net. Visit employer Web pages and key job sites like Monster.com.

Update Your Resume. You should customize your resume to reflect the assets you bring to each job, using key words that will jump out to (and can be electronically scanned by) employers. List volunteer work and internships, if you don’t have a lot of experience. Minimize employment gaps.

Be Prepared. Have a written personal plan for vertical and lateral growth opportunities. Many employers will ask, “where do you see yourself five years from now?” You’ll need an answer that fits into the purpose of the company and highlights your ability to grow and take on challenges.

Network, network, network. Go to networking events, join and use LinkedIn and other professional groups, and join volunteer organizations where you’ll meet other likeminded people. (Hire Disability Solution has a group on LinkedIn that you can join to find open jobs.)

Have a Positive Attitude. Job searching is tough, and try not to take it personal if you aren’t offered a job. Show that you are flexible. A sense of humor and positive attitude are pluses.

Disclose a Disability Only as Needed. The only reason to disclose a disability is if you require an accommodation for an interview or to perform the essential functions of a particular job. There is no need to mention your disability in your resume or cover letter.