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Finding Work When You Have a Disability

Most employers just want workers who have the right skills. But some are still not sure about hiring people with disabilities.

You may need to help employers change their approach and see you as a strength for their business.

Be ready

Your work search will not always be easy, but you can take steps to make sure you’re ready:

Think about how you will answer different interview questions about your disability. It’s a good idea to plan what you want to say and when you’ll say it.

Find the right employers

Look for employers who share the same values as you, and jobs that match your skills:

  • Learn about employers you want to work for, such as those who have the type of jobs that interest you, and who are interested in supporting you at work. The Alis Alberta Job Postings lists jobs posted by some of these employers. So does the Canada Job Bank.
  • Think about people you have met who will help you find work. These people are called your network. Tell them what you’re looking for in a job and ask them to let you know if they hear of anything that might fit.
  • Keep a list of employers who hire people with disabilities. If there aren’t any jobs open right now, you can ask an employer for an informational interview. They will get to know you and may have tips that will help your job search.
  • Some employers must follow laws about hiring people with different backgrounds and abilities.

There are lots of job opportunities for people with disabilities—as many as for people who don’t live with a disability. This video has tips for how to find the job that’s right for you.

What Jobs are Available to Someone With a Disability? (2:26)

Find the help you need

As you get ready for your job search, think about how your disability might affect you at work, and the supports you might need.

Both the provincial and federal governments have programs to support people with disabilities as they look for work:

Market yourself

You have the same skills as others who are applying for the job. But you may have different things to offer as well. Think about what you bring to the job as a person with a disability. If these examples apply to you, consider adding them to your resumé and cover letter, or talking about them in your interview:

  • Best practices. When employers hire people with disabilities, they may make changes at work that help everyone. For example, everyone benefits from the convenience of automatic doors.
  • Understanding. You know how to deal with people who have a harder time moving, learning, talking to others, etc.
  • Respect. You can help your employer show the public that they welcome all people and don’t doubt the value people with disabilities bring to the workplace.
  • Problem-solving skills. You know how to solve problems and deal with challenges.
  • Finding new talent. Hiring more people with disabilities may help employers when they can’t find enough workers.

Making it work on the job

Keep an open mind, and work with your employer to be sure the job will be a good fit for you. Helpful changes can make your work easier, such as:

Don’t get discouraged

At times, you may feel like the right job just isn’t there and you may start to lose hope. If this happens, take some time to build your confidence and change, or reframe, negative thoughts. For example, instead of saying to yourself, “Nobody wants to hire me because I have a disability,” you can say, “I may have a disability, but I also have lots of abilities that employers want.”

Career advisors at school, or other support people in your life, can also help you with tips for staying positive during your work search.

Remember, you learn many skills when you live with a disability. You probably use coping strategies when you face a challenge. Think of times when you:

  • Had to be creative to solve a problem
  • Worked through a mistake or through a time when things weren’t easy
  • Laughed and looked at the bright side of things
  • Were determined to get something done

If you know what you are good at, and how to tell people about it, you’re on the right track. Find the right employers, ask for the help you need, stay positive, and get the job that helps build the future you want.

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