Job Hunting While Living With A Disability
Finding work in today’s economy can be quite the challenge — and this issue is oftentimes magnified for those suffering from a mental or physical disability. However, you should know that there are laws on the books, both nationally and in the state of California, that offer you protection from unfair discrimination due to your disability. Many of the protections can be found in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment & Housing Act. Regardless of any health or disability issues that may affect you, you deserve a fair shot at any position for which you are qualified Read on to discover 7 tips that can help you find employment:
- Discover your strengths and passions. First of all, it is worth stating that no professional career is without challenges — and this will be true even if you find an employer who goes above and beyond in terms of offering accommodation for your condition. Finding a field that allows you to utilize your personal strengths and work for things you are truly passionate about will be a tremendous asset.
- Cast a wide net. Statistics show that the typical job applicant has about a 20% chance of landing an interview — a number which is sometimes even smaller in competitive fields. To give yourself a good chance of finding work as soon as possible, it is important to apply to various positions within your chosen field.
- Know that you are not obligated to disclose a disability. Potential employers are forbidden by the California Fair Employment & Housing Act from asking you if you have a disability, inquiring about the details of any disability or asking general questions about your health . They are, however, allowed to ask questions directly related to the work you will be performing. (i.e. “can you lift 50 pounds,” or “are you available to travel on a regular basis.”) At any point during the application/hiring process, however, you are allowed to disclose information regarding your condition without fear of discrimination — and this can be beneficial if you plan on requesting accommodations. California Government Code section 12940(a) precludes an employer from refusing to hire an applicant because of his or her mental or physical disability.
- Research typical accommodations for your condition. As long as disability accommodations do not place undue hardship on your employer, they are required to comply with such requests.(California Government Code section 12940[m]) Knowing exactly what accommodations you plan on requesting can be beneficial, as you can make it clear to a potential employer exactly how much help you will require.
- Master your interview skills. Interviews can be nerve-racking — especially if you plan on disclosing sensitive medical information in order to request accommodations. But the ability to remain calm, composed, and well-spoken is one that employers everywhere value greatly. Conducting practice interviews with a friend or researching common interview questions in your chosen field are two excellent strategies for preparing.
- Stay positive. Rejection is part of almost any job search, but don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. Keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity is an important skill both professionally and personally.
- Know (and protect) your rights. If you believe that you have been unfairly denied the opportunity for employment due to your disability — or if you have been harassed, terminated, or otherwise treated unfairly — the Perrin Law Group is here to help. With over 25 years experience in protecting the rights of disabled and other employees who have experienced workplace discrimination, we will help get you the benefits and respect you deserve.