Job searching when you are disabled

Finding a job can be scary, but more so if have a disability or health condition that may affect how you undertake your employment. But there are websites, resources, and advisors to help you find suitable roles.

Your first steps

The first step you should take, before beginning your job search, is to consider what you do and do not want to do. This could be specific jobs that interest you, particular employers, a specific location, or a particular industry you would like to work in. 

You should then think about your skills and whether you have those skills that the job is asking for. One useful tip is to make a list of those skills and strengths and you can include these within your applications. 

Consider the hours you would like to work. Some employers offer flexible working which many disabled people can find helpful when managing their disabilities.

The UK government provides further information on the different types of flexible working available and how you can apply for this.

Planning your job search

Finding a new job is more likely to go well if you plan how you are going to approach that job search. Some things you could try doing include: 

  • identify a few suitable job sites which advertise jobs.
  • put some time in your day to look at those job adverts. 
  • Keep a record of jobs you have applied for to keep track of your progress.

Preparation

Once you have identified some job sites to look at, you should start putting together  essential documents to help you with your applications. These documents include: 

  • your CV – you should consider tailoring your CV for different jobs.
  • copies of any references from previous jobs, study, or volunteering 
  • a cover letter that you can also tailor for different jobs – there is a useful blog on NGTU on how best to structure a Cover Letter.

Where to look for jobs

Many jobs are advertised on job websites, but other places you can look for work is on shop windows, by asking people you know who work for that employer or contacting that employer directly to make a speculative application. 

Some popular job websites include:

Some companies advertise vacancies on their own websites so you should also check the jobs or careers sections of their websites. You can also follow the company on social media as vacancies may also be mentioned there. 

Help from Job Centre Plus

If you have a disability or health condition and would like some additional support in finding a job, contact your local Jobcentre through the Contact Jobcentre Plus website and ask to be assigned a work coach. They will support you every step of the way in finding a job that is right for you. Job Centres also have Disability Employment Advisers who can provide specialist advice and support.

They will be able to recommend employers in your area that are Disability Confident. If you need extra support to move into work, they may refer you to a specialist support programme for additional training and to assist you with managing your disability or health problem.

Disability Confident Scheme

Disability Confident is the name of a campaign initiated by the U.K. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) designed to help companies become more willing to employ disabled staff, by offering advice and breaking down unhelpful work-related myths. 

The Disability Confident campaign encourages employers to be positive about skills that people with disability bring to businesses and to remove barriers to recruiting and retaining employees with disabilities.

One quick way to identify whether an employer is disability-friendly is to look for the 'Disability Confident' symbol alongside job ads. This replaces the old 'two ticks' system, but employers are now asked to provide slightly different evidence of their commitment to employing people with a disability.

Programmes and grants that can help disabled people.

There are several programmes and support to help you into employment if you have a disability or health condition. These include:

  • Access to Work: Can provide money towards a support worker. It can also help with the cost of specialist equipment or travelling to the workplace.
  • Specialist Employment Support Services: such as that from Remploy, can help you get ready for employment or self-employment.

Reasonable Adjustments

Disabled people have the right to reasonable adjustments during the application process, interview and when they are in employment.

If you are struggling with the application form, you could ask the employer if they have a more accessible format available such as an Easy Read version or allowing you to submit a video application.  You could also ask for extra time in assessments. 

You can also request adjustments to the role if you are the successful applicant. This could include using assistive technology, having more breaks or changes to your working hours. 

Do you need to disclose your disability to an employer?

The short answer is ‘no’. There is no legal obligation to disclose your disability to a prospective employer at any time during the application for interview process, or even when you are in employment.

You should, however, consider whether not disclosing would make the process more difficult for you as you may struggle with the assessment stage or with physical barriers in the workplace. You could turn up to the interview site and discover there is no ramp, but if the employer is aware in advance, they could move the interview to a more accessible location. 

And finally – be confident!

It can be a very anxious time, searching for a job when you are disabled. There are indeed some employers who may look upon disability negatively. Try to focus the employer’s attention on what you can do, and not what you cannot. Again, disclosing your disabilities at the application stage, can help to ensure the interview itself is focused on your skills and experience, and not your disability. For more advice on confidence when job searching, why not read Steve Keith’s Blog on Not Going to Uni!

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