You don’t need me to tell you how hard job hunting is. You already know. If you’re reading this article, you probably also understand the extra difficulty of job hunting when you have a disability.
As a person with cerebral palsy, I know how hard job hunting can be. It feels like we must work harder to compensate for our disabilities. As though we must be the best of the disabled community before being considered for a job. I also know that you’ll inevitably get caught up in the negativity we all feel when we get a rejection email in the whirlwind of applying for jobs.
However, what if I reframed the process for you? What if I told you, you’re feeling out prospective employers just like they are with you? When I started to think like this, job hunting became more manageable.
It’s all about looking for the green flags surrounding the company. So, what are some green flags you should consider when job hunting as a disabled person?
1. Disabled Friendly
You should always research the companies you’re applying to, if only briefly. It would be best to determine if the company declares itself as disabled-friendly. Most companies will have this displayed in the bottom banner of their website. For example, ‘Disability Confident’ is a good logo to look out for and proves that the company is disability conscious.
Go a little further if you can. Many companies say they’re disabled and neurodiverse friendly, but I like to see if there’s any evidence to back this up. The most obvious one is, do they showcase their disabled talent? If they don’t, make sure to ask how the company demonstrates being inclusive during the interview.
Does the application mention the building’s accessibility? I always find this one reassuring because it shows me the HR team have taken the time to consider the needs of each candidate. Don’t be discouraged if it isn’t because you can always send an email asking about it.
Some good examples of physical accessibility include; ramps, lifts and accessible toilets. For neurodiverse candidates, you might want to inquire if they have a quiet room to combat overstimulation or if the staff has sensitivity training.
3. Disclosing hourly rates/salaries
In a world where many job applications offer competitive salaries, it’s nice to see an actual number. Whether it’s an hourly rate or a salaried position, it means you can figure out if you can afford to take the job. Many job listings now even give an estimated figure based on your experience. Even this shows you the lowest offer.
You can always enquire about rates, but in my experience, companies only disclose rates to those further along in the application process. Honestly, I tend to skip over listings that don’t disclose their wage rate.
4. Alterative application listings
I find it refreshing when a job listing offers alternative ways to access their information. I haven’t seen it used as standard practice yet, but it’s a positive step regardless. Alternative methods I’ve seen offered include audio recordings of listings, calling the company to have someone read to you, and having the text formatted in different fonts and colours.
Never be afraid to ask if there’s an alternative way to view an application.
5. Where they’re advertising
Did you know there are job sites with the disabled community already in mind? Now, that doesn’t mean the job is exclusive to that job site. However, the companies that post to these boards already know you may be a disabled candidate. That removes a barrier for you. You can focus on showcasing your skills rather than worrying about your disability.
Overall, when it comes to job hunting my advice is go with your gut instinct. Not every job listing is going to factor in all of these points, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad job. Only apply for work your comfortable with doing and don’t be afraid to reach out to companies if you want extra information.
Remember, you have unique skills you can offer. You just have to find the right job for you so you can showcase them.
Bua’s mission is to help give disabled and neurodiverse people the skills to break into the creative industry. Bua offers free, accessible courses that allow you to build a portfolio and enter into creative work. For organisations, Bua offers consultations.
About the Author
Lauren is a freelance writer from Falmouth. After graduating from university, she took a keen interest in writing about disabilities. Her goal is to share her story and others like it with passion and conviction.