Resume & Cover Letter Tips for Job Seekers with Disabilities
The decision to disclose a disability is a difficult choice and a large consideration in the job search process. While some disabilities are visible, others are not. When writing your resume and cover letter, deciding to disclose your disability is something you should weigh very carefully.
As we have discussed multiple times, an employer is limited in the questions they can ask and these questions can only be centered on your ability to perform the job and "reasonable accommodations" you may require.
If you choose to be completely transparent and have decided to disclose your disability, here are some things to consider when writing your resume and cover letter:
- Do not include your disability information upfront. Your resume should be centered on your skills, strengths and experience - like any other job candidate.
- If you have not been employed consistently, it’s best to develop a functional resume. Functional resumes highlight your work experience and skills instead of a chronological listing of your work history. This is where you can place less focus on gaps in work history and more on your experience.
- References will benefit you greatly. These should be included at the end of your resume. Your past work-experience is testament to your future work product, and providing employers with access to past employers will help outline your ability to perform the job regardless of disability status.
- If you are a member of outside organizations associated with the disabled, determine if you want to include only these or include a list of affiliations that showcase a broader range of experience.
Your Cover Letter:
- Again, do not open up your cover letter with your disability, rather focus on your skills and work experience.
- Outline your strengths and accomplishments - these should be the central theme of any cover letter, regardless of disability or other job status.
- If you are addressing any physical limitations, outline solutions for the employer. For instance, you may have an issue with a visual impairment and can quickly address that your only accommodation will be a specific-type of computer monitor.
- If possible, provide examples of how you have performed with past employers.
- Discuss opportunities that employers provide by hiring employees with disabilities. And if you know that the employer is focused on hiring disabled workers, highlight this fact.