Trying to find a job can be overwhelming for anyone; it can seem insurmountable when you also have the added task of convincing a potential employer that you can do the job when you have an obvious disability. There are plenty of tips out there for how to approach interviews, but not that much information about selecting the right companies to work for when you struggle with a disability.
Benefits Does the company offer a competitive benefits package? Is the health insurance coverage going to meet your needs? Strong companies that value diversity often have strong benefits packages as well. This is information that should be readily available on the HR website of any company that you’re attempting to apply for a job with.
Accessibility Are the facilities where you are looking to work accessible to you? Is there sufficient room to manoeuvrer any equipment you may need? While the ADA puts certain requirements in place, it’s important to note whether the company is just barely meeting the basics, or if they’ve invested the time into not only making accessibility possible, but if it’s been made convenient and well-integrated into the workplace. Is the accessible entrance around back, or does it lead straight to the lobby like the main entrance? How the company handles these issues says a great deal about how they value employees with disabilities.
Diversity Any company that is welcoming to individuals with disabilities should have a diverse workforce already. Take a look at the faces you see when you visit and decide whether there seems to be adequate representation of people from all walks of life. Companies that value diversity tend to be better
Mentoring Program Find out if the company has a mentoring program, and if there are people that you can turn to if you need help navigating the workplace. Having a mentoring program can be very useful for someone with a disability, as it can give you a foothold in the workplace community; having someone else take the lead on including you and asking for your input can help put others at ease when they first encounter someone with a disability.
Assistive Technology Check to see if there are tools in place to help you use any necessary software on the computer, or adaptive features like sticky-keys or read-out loud functions. Is the company willing to buy you adaptive technology such as a sit/stand desk if needed, or an anti-glare screen if you have vision problems? If a company values the skills you bring to the workplace, they should also be willing to provide you with the tools necessary to make the best use of those skills.
Company Culture How does it feel when you walk in the door? Do the employees seem happy and upbeat or are they moody and reserved? You will want to make sure that you will be walking into a positive work environment, where employees are engaged and invested in the work that they are doing. Workplace culture has a huge impact in overall employee satisfaction and whether you will be fulfilled by working there.
Strong Managers One of the most critical determining factors in whether or not you will have a good experience working for a company is the leadership. If those in charge treat you with respect and value your input, others around them will take their cue and will also see the value in having a person with a disability on the team as well.
Making sure that a company is the right fit for you may come down to several determining factors. Besides looking out for the things we’ve listed in this article, it’s very important to trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking for a better opportunity.