Generally speaking, looking for work is the same whether you are disabled or not. You need to find appropriate roles and then prove to the prospective employer that you are the best person for the job. However, if you are disabled, there is the added issue of when and how to talk about this. By law (Equality Act 2010) an employer is not allowed to ask you questions relating to health or disability (other than for monitoring purposes, or in order to provide reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process) until they offer you the job.
If your disability is not visible or obvious in any way, then the decision as to whether and when to mention it is completely up to you. If it is visible (for example, you use a wheelchair) or obvious (for example you have a speech impediment) then they will be aware of it at least by the interview stage.
Whether or not it is by choice, if we are going to discuss our disability, we need to put some thought into how we might do this. If the issue doesn’t arise until after you have been offered the job, then the decision is based on what you might gain by telling them. Usually this would be about any workplace adjustments you might need in order to perform at your best. This can be anything from a piece of specialised equipment to asking them to explain things very carefully to you if, say, you are autistic and tend to take things very literally.
If disability is raised by you during the recruitment process then there are a number of issues to consider. The first one is to allay any concerns you think they might have regarding your disability. So, for example, if you are sight-impaired and it looks like you will need expensive equipment, you could tell them that Access to Work will provide you with a large screen, or voice recognition software or whatever, and remember to reassure them that your performance was as good/accurate/quick as your colleagues in your previous role (or more so, if it was).
Their concerns will usually revolve around cost and/or performance, so you will need to let them know that neither of these will be an issue. It may be that your disability gives you an advantage. For example, if you are autistic you might say that you prefer to work without distraction, meaning you are far more productive than staff who might spend time chatting. Or that your attention to detail is better than most people’s.
There may be other benefits you can mention. In order to survive in a world not designed for disabled people, you may have developed skills such as creativity, determination, innovation and persistence. These are all attractive qualities to an employer.
Try to anticipate what their concerns might be, put them to rest, highlight any support or positives that might be available, and then go back to discussing your skills and talents and why you would be the right person for the job.
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