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Navigating Your Way Through the Daunting Job Market as a Person Living with a Disability

By: James Cummings

It is hard enough to find a job with the limited positions and massive competition, and it's even harder when you have a disability. The 2012 Census Bureau report indicates that compared to 79% of non-disabled persons between the ages of 21 and 64 who were employed, only 41% of persons living with disabilities within the same age group were employed.

A report by the Bureau of Labour Statistics shows that 17.5% of disabled persons were employed while those without a disability had an employment population ratio of 65%. What's more, persons living with disabilities who were employed earned an average of $9,000 less per year than those not living with a disability.

In one study, researchers from Rutgers and Syracuse universities discovered that fake applicants who disclosed disabilities in their resumes received  about 26% less interest from employers than those without disabilities. While this is not uplifting news, the researchers also found the gap was concentrated among small private companies not covered by the American Disabilities Act, possibly indicating that policies and initiatives directed at encouraging employers to hire disabled persons might be working.

The figures may not be uplifting but with a few steps in the right direction, you can improve your chances of finding a job you’ll be satisfied with.

Job hunting

One of the classic ways of finding job listings is through newspapers and weekly advertisers. These days, more people use online job boards like this one where you can find great job openings whatever your field. If you are interested in a particular company, their website and social media pages are one way to learn about any job openings.

It is frustrating when you don't hear back after submitting an online application for employment, but you are not alone as it is estimated that more than half of job applicants face the exact same scenario. While there is not much you can do when a recruiter doesn't get back to you, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of getting a job.

Networking

Most jobs, especially the high-level ones are never advertised publicly, but are filled through networking or word-of-mouth. To achieve success with job hunting and reduce the likelihood of ever being without a job, it is important that you learn how to fully utilize networking. Start with your friends and family and work your way through developing a broad list of contacts which may include people you have met through business or social functions.

Create an online portfolio

An online portfolio is one of the best ways to show off your skills. It would allow you to emphasise your work and showing potential employers precisely what you are capable of. You don't have to break the bank to set up a website, especially if you use Domains4Less low cost website hosting.

You have been invited for the interview, now what?

After a long search you finally set up an interview, this can be nerve-wracking. The first thing to do is to calm down and try to be as confident as possible. Normally, how you're feeling will seep through and become evident to the recruiter.

If you don't have a visible disability, it’s entirely up to you when you choose to disclose it but at the interview stage, it’s better not to as it’s normal for humans to form judgments even when they don't intend to.

If you have a visible disability, briefly acknowledge it and then focus on what you can bring to the table. Don't try to dodge the topic entirely, and positively address it when it pops up. Again, this has a lot to do with how confident you feel.

On a final note, it is key to prepare adequately for both the job-hunting process and the interview stage.