Finding a job can be a stressful time in everyone’s life. However, for people with a physical disability, the added aspect of having to disclose a disability can make the process even more daunting. People with physical disability have a lot of skills and strengths to bring to the workplace, however, are often overlooked due to their perceived limitations. By building raport and placing a focus on skills and abilities during the interview process, people with physical disabilities can demonstrate that they are the best fit for any role.
The below tips can help people with a physical disability find and keep a job they love.
Finding or returning to work is a common goal for people with a physical disability. Having a job isn’t everything but it’s a lot. Work provides us with social interaction, greater financial freedom, confidence and a sense of freedom. Some people with a physical disability have held a job before, while for others, it may be their first time in the workforce.
At EPIC we want people to be well equipped to have the best chance of succeeding in their job applications. Some people may be ready to join the workplace straight away, while others may need to undertake training to ensure they have the skills and confidence to succeed in the workplace.
Do Your Research
Being armed with knowledge makes you a strong candidate during the interview process, and helps you to make sure the organisation is a good fit for you. There’s nothing worse than getting excited for a job only to discover it was nothing like what you expected. If you can’t find out from research if they are an inclusive workplace, you may like to ask them some questions about their accessibility and diversity in your interview.
Your research should aim to cover their website, social media and industry news. What are their strengths, weaknesses, developments, changes and opportunities?
Consider questions you will be asked
It’s likely the interview will ask you questions based on your experience in the workplace. This will follow the formula of asking you to describe a situation where you have exhibited a desired skill in the past. The best way to answer these questions is to understand the skills and expertise you bring and most importantly provide real examples where you have exhibited them. If you don’t have any examples of an experience in a working environment then utilise a personal experience.
Perfect your response – STAR method
Situation – Describe the situation, be specific.
Task – Describe what needs to be done
Action – Describe what you did, what tools did you use.
Result – Describe the results or achievements.
Dress for success
Always aim to be better dressed than those interviewing you. Wearing a clean and professional outfit will also help you to feel confident and ready for a job interview.
Take a support person
People with a physical disability can ask a friend, family member, or employment consultant to provide support during an interview. It is important to let the employer know in advance.
The one question your interviewers are legally allowed to ask you is what kind of workplace adjustments you may require. This question is important because it makes sure any necessary changes are implemented prior to your first day. If they don’t raise the question, consider raising it. Liaise with EPIC Assist as we are experienced in helping workplaces make workplace adjustments for people with a physical disability.
Some people with a physical disability may not require any support to flourish in their role while others may need support for weeks, months or a year – and that’s okay. On-the-job support can help you become settled in your new workplace and set you up to succeed. The support will assist in confidence building, skill development and lead to greater independence.
For those who are returning to work sustaining a physical injury or disability, a support worker can be a great person to help adjust to any changes in the workplace. Although you may have prepared for these changes, it may still be helpful to have a support person help you adjust on the first day or week of your new role.
Once a person with a physical disability is familiar and comfortable with a new workplace, they may not require ongoing support. However, some workplace adjustments may be required. EPIC and Job Access work with employers to implement workplace adjustment for people with a physical disability, and may cover some of the associated costs. Adjustments could include:
- Appropriate access to the building
- Workstation access and equipment requirements
- Parking space
- Access to kitchen and other shared areas (ensure the appropriate height of benches, width of entrance)
EPIC Assist are experienced in assisting employers to implement workplace adjustments for people with a physical disability. It may become apparent while working in your role that an adjustment would make your life at work easier. Don’t hesitate to make this known to your employer or support worker.
The final tip for people with a physical disability is to be open throughout the process. This will allow you to perform and connect with people at your best. It will allow the support of your friends, family, co-workers, employment consultants, and health professionals. Being open and transparent will make sure your support network is there to assist and make sure no obstacle is too hard at work or at home.
Approximately 1 in 5 Australians have a disability. Over three-quarters (76.8%) of these people have a physical disability. Disability is a part of so many lives and can have a big impact on your employment journey. That is why we help people with a physical disability to find and gain meaningful employment. We support them on their employment journey until our assistance is no longer needed.
With a little support, people with a physical disability can have long and meaningful employment and offer a host of benefits to any organisation. We can help people with a physical disability that come to EPIC:
- through Centrelink, where they choose EPIC as their Disability Employment Services provider
- by self-referring, which means they come straight to us and do not go to Centrelink first
- to undertake job preparation activities through School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) with their NDIS plans if they are a school leaver or school student in Tasmania.
No matter how people access our services, we support them to gain and keep employment, as well as develop work and life skills. We work alongside people with disability to discover their strengths and talents, as well any gaps in skills. We can provide training to help them reach their employment goals.
If you would like to find out more about our services for people with a physical disability, contact us today.
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Video editor’s new take on employment: Shem’s story
After a surfing accident that left him a quadriplegic, Shem spent the next seven years readjusting to his new circumstances. A simple accident from something many of us have done before changed Shem’s life forever. When Shem felt it was time to re-enter the workforce, he enlisted the help of EPIC Assist.