Being prepared to obtain and keep a job is not an easy task for anyone, and for people who live with a disability, these life moments often carry with them even more challenges. Fortunately, there are several resources and options for people with disabilities who want to become gainfully employed.
1. Understand Job Readiness
There’s been a great deal of talk about job readiness, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has the same understanding of it. Job readiness is not a single moment in time that occurs as though someone flips a switch. Rather, job readiness is a process that you undergo to prepare yourself for a job in the real world. Job readiness encompasses your specialized skills in addition to soft skills that employers seek, such as work ethic, determination, collaboration skills, reliability, etc.
For people living with a disability, job readiness can be an intimidating concept. You may be hesitant to seek employment or lack confidence in yourself, and you may think that someone else determines your job readiness for you. In truth, everyone can benefit from job readiness programs and training that help you develop skills in every area from job searching, to interviewing, to keeping a job.
Many work centers and youth programs in schools and community centers offer job readiness training, and you’ll benefit by gaining skills to prepare you for your first job in addition to confidence, independence, and motivation. With some training and support from these programs, you will know when you are ready to hunt for a job in the real world.
2. Know Which Workplaces are Best for People with Disabilities
People living with disabilities can work for virtually any company today, thanks to advancements in diversity, technology, and accessibility. But, it is not uncommon for employees with disabilities to encounter companies that choose other candidates who don’t have disabilities. If you feel like you are being stonewalled, or if you want to work for a company known for valuing candidates and employees with disabilities, do a little research into the best workplaces for people with disabilities.
Most recently, the following companies have received recognition for creating disability-friendly workplaces: IBM Corporation, Ernst & Young, Proctor & Gamble, Aetna, KPMG, Cisco Systems, SC Johnson, Eli Lilly and Company, Merck & Co., and Sodexo. If you are interested in landing and keeping a job, you should look into these companies that welcome employees with disabilities.
If your short list of companies does not include one of these disability-friendly workplaces, don’t give up. There are several factors to consider when deciding where to apply for a job: find whether the company’s website invites job applicants with disabilities, determine if the company’s recruitment process includes people with disabilities, uncover whether the company has a reasonable accommodation or job-aids process, and learn whether there is an employee resource group for people with disabilities in creating inclusive workplaces.
3. Choose the Best Cities for Accessibility
Of course, your workplace is just one facet of your life. If you are going to look for a job that you hope to keep for many years to come, make sure it is located in a city that is accessible. Even a dream job loses its luster when you have to relocate to a city that does not accommodate you. To save you some time researching the best cities for accessibility, check out this Redfin article on the best cities for technology-assisted living.
People with disabilities strive to be independent, and moving to a city that assists in that endeavor is a smart move. Consider Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Austin, Houston, Boston, Miami, Denver, Atlanta, and Portland if you plan to rely on technology-based services that will make life easier for you.
If you are living with a disability and want to enter the workforce, consider participating in a job readiness program to prepare you for landing and keeping a job. You also should determine whether the companies you want to work for are known for creating disability-friendly workplaces. Finally, consider the location of the job because some cities are more accessible than others.
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