If you have a disability, finding and keeping work is usually no different for you than for someone without disabilities. However, there may be additional things to consider.
Use the career planning process
Whether you’re developing a plan on your own or with assistance from a service provider or a career advisor, it’s good idea to focus on your abilities rather than on what you can’t do. The career planning process will help you identify the kind of work you’d like to do or would be capable of doing. The career planning process involves 4 steps:
- Know yourself.
- Explore possibilities.
- Get ready.
- Take action.
You may want to complete the process on your own, or you can use the resources listed at the end of this article for assistance if needed. Alternatively, a service provider or career advisor can help you prepare to put your plan into action.
An effective career and work search action plan reflects what you’ve learned about yourself and the opportunities available to you. It can help you reach both your short- and long-term goals.
Reframe for a positive approach
If your disability is recent or if past experiences have left you feeling negative about your career, part of your challenge is to reframe the way you think of yourself. For example, you may say to yourself, "Nobody wants to hire me because I have a disability." You can reframe that thought and say, "I may have a disability but I also have many abilities that employers will value." A career advisor or other support person can help you reframe some of your past experiences and beliefs and identify what you’ve learned from them.
Remember—you’ve developed many employability skills from meeting the challenges of your disability. Think of times when you have used the following:
- creative problem-solving
- flexibility and adaptability
- ability to handle a mistake or a difficult situation
- a sense of humour and a positive attitude
Plan for the long-term
Career planning is a lifelong process of continually reassessing your goals and adjusting your plans. Your plan may involve looking for work right away. Or you may be thinking about completing training or furthering your education, either now or in the future. Find out about the education, training and skills you need, where the training is available, what it costs and whether work will be available in your field. A career advisor or other support person should be able to suggest how to get started with this research.
Programs and services to consider include:
- supported employment through agencies that provide work development and ongoing support at work
- work search programs such as job finding clubs
- self-employment programs or entrepreneurial workshops to help explore ideas and develop business plans
- on-the-job training
- post-secondary programs, such as apprenticeship, certificate, diploma and degree programs.
Setting and achieving short-term goals will help you maintain your confidence and motivation in the longer term. Successfully taking small steps, such as being accepted into a program or landing a part-time job, lets you measure your progress as you put your career plan into action. Remember, having difficulty with 1 step doesn't mean you will fail to achieve your plan.
Whether you’re looking for full- or part-time work or exploring opportunities through education, volunteering or self-employment, developing a career plan will help you move towards your potential.