At Massachusetts' One-Stop Career Centers, through the Navigator program, employers and job seekers can access information about federal, state and local programs that assist individuals with disabilities in gaining employment. Other free services include workshops on resume writing; interviewing techniques; career counseling and connections to local support services.
One-Stop Career Center employment specialists offer the following tips for job seekers with a disability.
Focus on your abilities and not disabilities. The interview process is a tool used by an employer to determine if the applicant is qualified for the job and whether the individual will be a good fit for the company. While an employer cannot use the interview or the application process to inquire about a potential disability, it is helpful to bring up your disability as it relates to your ability to perform the job.
Practice interviewing before the interview. Mock interview sessions with trusted friends and relatives are recommended. Job seekers should ensure that their clothing is clean and pressed. Making eye contact with the interviewer is also important.
Be realistic about what types of positions will fit best for your disability. Researching a variety of different occupations to find a good fit is essential.
Take initiative to utilize services offered at support service agencies that specialize in serving those with disabilities. For example, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission employs counselors with expertise in assessing employability and how it relates to their disability. MRC is a partner at many Career Centers.
Read up. JobNet Career Center in Boston's disability expert Sharon Tulchinsky recommends the following books: "Successful Job Search Strategies for the Disabled, Understanding the ADAP," by Jeffery G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C.; Job-Hunting for the So-Called Handicapped or People Who Have Disabilities," by Richard Nelson Bolles and Dale Susan Brown; No One is Unemployable, Creative Solutions for Overcoming Barriers to Employment," by Debra L. Angle and Elisabeth E. Harney.
Become an in-house expert . Job seekers should work to hone as many new skills as possible in order to become an expert in a particular area. Doing so makes anyone more valuable to an employer.
Keep in mind that employers are looking for the best qualified candidate. Use your skills and capabilities to your advantage. Skilled workers in a number of occupations will be in even more demand in the not so distant future.