If you’ve been working, training or job hunting you’ll have come across the terms “hard and soft skills”. Hard skills are defined as skills that are abilities and knowledge you have that are related to your job. Soft skills on the other hand are qualities that relate to your personality and how they assist you in your job.
As a disabled person it may seem hard to quantify your skills, especially if you’ve been out of work. Whether you’re applying for jobs or are already in the workplace it’s important that you use your lived experience to demonstrate your skillset.
Commonly asked for skills in the workplace
|Hard Skills||Soft Skills|
|Tech skills||Good communication|
|Microsoft Office, Google Drive or other office software suite||Approachable|
|Analytical and data skills||Want to pursue personal growth|
|Time management||Strong work ethic|
How to demonstrate you have these skills
Use a combination of any work and personal experience you have to showcase desired skills. Your education, any training and volunteering you’ve done, it can all be used to your advantage. Make sure you have a list of your skills somewhere on your CV and reference their use.
I have cerebral palsy and I didn’t get my first job until I was twenty. Whilst I job hunted, I made sure to jam my CV with anything I was doing inside and outside of university. Education allows a person to obtain transferable skills that can be applied to almost any job. For example, through my education I became a quick learner, I could adapt and I worked well under pressure. All things I mentioned in my applications.
Voluntary positions are great, especially if it’s in something you enjoy. This will demonstrate a few things, including your willingness to help others, your passion for a particular field or area and your drive to gain experience. Also, along with experience, you’ll likely gain some sort of training during your work. Even mentioning long standing hobbies and what you do for them will demonstrate skills.
I understand it can be daunting mentioning your disability during the application process because you fear it may lead to judgement. However, your lived experience can be invaluable and you should use it to your credit. Those of us in the disabled and neurodiverse communities can be extremely creative in our problem solving. We have to navigate a world not designed for us, as such, we often come up with out of the box solutions.
Now, examples will differ from experience but I’ve realised that my disability makes me empathetic and has leant me patience. That might not sound important, but it really is. Being able to relate to others and sympathise with them means you gain a better understanding of them so you can build a solid relationship.
Remember, the ideal CV should be no more than an A4 sheet, excluding a cover letter. Make sure you read a job application thoroughly and only mention skills, training and experience that is relevant to the role. That way your application doesn’t get bogged down. If you can, also make sure your references back up your experience.
During the Interview
I always get stuck in the interviewing process, I talk to much because of nerves. I now combat that by listing my relevant skills and experience in relation to a job before I interview. I recommend doing this. It keeps you concise and professional. The interviewer should have your CV with them. During your interview its important to prove your experience with anecdotal evidence. Always try and link back to the CV and skills and experience you’ve provided.
Be prepared to be asked curveball questions that are seemingly unrelated to the job. People tend to ask brainteasers to try and gauge your personality. Towards the end of interview ask any questions you may have. I’ve found that asking about training opportunities or development programs always goes down well, as it shows my willingness to learn.
Almost anything can be used as experience when applying for jobs. It’s just how you pull together the information. You know yourself the best, make sure you showcase yourself to the best of your ability.
Bua’s mission is to help give disabled and neurodiverse people the skills they need to break into the creative industry. They do this by offering different courses that cater to different interests and fields. Bua also offers business consulting.
About the Author
Lauren is a freelance writer from Falmouth. After graduating from university, she took a keen interest in writing about disability, so her story and others like it could be told with passion and conviction.