Today’s post is all about work.
A small part of me wants to laugh at the thought of me giving work/career advice. I’ve had great jobs and not so great jobs in my short tenure in the workforce. I’ve fallen on my face, both literally and figuratively, more than a person should ever be allowed to.
I’m still figuring it out myself so proceed with caution.
Advice I would give to job searchers:
This may sound obvious (and possibly controversial) but make sure you can do the job before you apply. Don’t just “think” that you can do it. Know you can do it, from climbing the stairs, answering the phone, what have you.
There’s a good chance you know something (or someone) about the company you want to work for. Ask them questions; if you don’t have any connections then try calling them and asking your questions. Be sure and be specific since accessible is in the eye of the beholder. Do your best to look for ways to require the least amount of accommodations possible.
There’s a good chance that you’ll be looked at in terms of “additional barriers” when you go in for an interview. It’s illegal for them to judge your potential employment based on that or say anything about it (but that doesn’t mean the thoughts are off limits).
Also think long term, my work building is considered to be accessible. I noticed a few questionable things when I was hired, but I wasn’t expecting to be there very long so I didn’t think too much about it. Now its years later and I have a different position, one that requires me to be all over the building.
There is no elevator, but there are 3 flights of stairs.
Most of the storage spaces are in overhead cabinets or floor to ceiling closet shelves. There’s also only one fairly large step stool to use.
I’m 4’11” and fatigue easily, so neither of these seemly small details works to my benefit.
I’m basically forced to ask for help more than I would like to (& I hate it).
How I juggle a job with a disability:
I have to treat my time like I have 3 jobs & a disability, because that’s my reality. There’s very little juggling involved these days since everything has different deadlines, time requirements, etc. It does get hard when I have to factor in various “disability related” appointments and my jobs but it’s just something I have to deal with, so I have to make it work. Luckily it only happens a few times a year so it’s manageable even if it’s not always preferred.
I know a lot of people with a disability prefer to work from home. I thought I’d be one of them, but I’m not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. Although it does help that 2 out of my 3 jobs can be done from home (or wherever I happen to be) so I don’t have to factor in additional commuting time and such. As much as I don’t like going to work it does help me to get out of the house (so that’s a factor worth considering).
Tips I would give for an interview:
I’m not the best interviewee, by a long shot. I’m much better at interviewing; at least I think so, so I’m far more equipped to give the point of view from the other side of the table.
I don’t think you should have to disclose your disability, however don’t use it as an excuse later on if you’re talked to about your performance (if it’s not good). If you think you’re falling behind, not pulling your weight, etc., then own up to it and say you’d like some feedback, and then that would be a good time to bring up any disabilities.
If you think your disability may cause unique challenges and you want to make your potential employer aware of them then do so.
I can only speak for myself, but I prefer upfront disclosure to “using” a disability to your benefit, like trying to give yourself an out in unfavorable situations. (Side note: I can’t believe that that’s happened to me in my work life enough that I felt a strong need to mention it.) Also, please don’t assume that because a co-worker, supervisor, or manager, also had a disability that they’re going to see you as a kindred spirit and cut you a break. It could happen, but it could also come back to bite you.
So, there’s my advice for job searching/interviewing/having a job. It may not be popular or politically correct, but no one has ever accused me of being either.
*A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on April 8, 2018