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Navigating the Job Search and Interview Process with a Disability

Person in a wheelchair at a desk on a computer searching for a job

In today's diverse workforce, individuals with disabilities bring unique perspectives, skills, and talents to the table. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22.5 percent of people with a disability were employed in 2023; this rate increased by 1.2 percentage points from the prior year. However, despite the progress in inclusivity, navigating the job market can still present challenges for job seekers with disabilities. From overcoming biases to finding accommodating workplaces, the journey can be difficult.

In order to overcome these challenges, it is important for individuals with disabilities to maintain a positive mindset and utilize resources that are readily available. It is also necessary to point out that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, as there are many different disabilities that affect each individual differently; what works for one person might not be as effective for the next person. Let’s take a look at some advice for the job search and interview process for people with disabilities:

1. Know your rights

Before diving into the job search, it's crucial to understand the rights that a person with a disability has. Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations that protect individuals with disabilities in the workplace, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA says you can’t be denied employment, harassed, demoted, fired, or paid less because you have a disability or have a history of a disability, and also requires employers to implement reasonable accommodations for disabilities. Knowing your rights will empower you to advocate for yourself throughout the job search and interview process.

2. Highlight your strengths in your resume

When crafting your resume and cover letter, focus on your skills, experiences, and accomplishments that are relevant to the job you're applying for. Even if you have never had another job, you can include any hobbies, volunteer work, or other activities that showcase your relevant skills and abilities. Be sure to showcase any accommodations or assistive technologies you use that enable you to perform your job effectively to display your confidence and full potential.

3. Do your research on potential employers

Before applying for a job, take the time to research the company's culture, policies, and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Check job postings and/or websites to see if a company is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE) which is defined as: “An employer that pledges to not discriminate against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.” Targeting companies that prioritize inclusivity can increase your chances of finding a supportive work environment.

4. Understand the accommodations you will need

It is important to know what types of accommodations you might require for the interview process as well as the job environment if you are hired. Keep in mind that under the ADA, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Communicate with employers about the accessibility of interview locations and whether it is possible to conduct an interview remotely. During the interview, let the employer know what you will need in your work environment to perform the job effectively.

5. Decide if you wish to keep your disability private

Deciding when and how to disclose your disability during the job search process is a personal decision. Discussing the topic in a positive and confidential manner will allow you to focus on how your disability has equipped you with unique perspectives and skills, making you a stronger candidate for the job. However, there remains the concern of whether or not disclosing the information about your disability will cause unconscious bias from the interviewer. Remember, the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability; if you feel that you have been discriminated against, you can file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

6. Utilize disability services

Take advantage of disability services offered by government agencies, vocational rehabilitation programs, or disability advocacy organizations. These resources may provide assistance with resume writing, interview preparation, job placement, and ongoing support in the workplace. In addition, you may wish to seek out job boards and networking sites specifically for job seekers with disabilities. These resources focus on jobs from employers that are looking to hire people with disabilities as well as providing programs and opportunities to connect with potential employers. 

While navigating the job market with a disability may present unique challenges, it's essential to approach the journey with confidence, determination, and resilience. By knowing your rights, highlighting your strengths, leveraging resources, and advocating for yourself, you can find fulfilling employment opportunities where your talents are valued and your needs are accommodated. 

Sedna Consulting Group is proud to be a business that values diversity and inclusion down to the core of our operations. For over 15 years, we have connected diverse, top talent to roles that best fit them and their needs in our mission to create a more equitable tech industry. 



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