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Is there a national general post-secondary students association? Does it do any disability-related advocacy work?


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Regina Job Search Strategies Forum Report

Discussion

A participant asked if, after an unsuccessful application, she could assume that a company would keep her information on file and contact her when future opportunities arose.

No, said Sali. “Be prepared to apply again, and be sure to contact the company and ask them why you were not selected.” Doing so will prepare the applicant for the next opportunity with that company.

Another participant asked about the difference between personal references and letters of reference, and the appropriate use of each.

Thompson said personal references should be listed on a resumé. She said applicants should give their references a copy of the resumé, so they know the applicant’s range of skills and abilities. Letters of reference should be written on company letterhead, and presented to the interviewer who asks, “What would this person say about you?”

“I wear dark glasses due to a light-sensitivity disorder,” said a participant. “How do I convey to an interviewer that I am not being impolite or rude by not removing my sunglasses?”

Dillon and Jacksic said that disclosure might be worthwhile in this case. Tell the potential employer the reason for the dark glasses so they will not be surprised at the interview, but be sure they know it will not affect job performance.

A participant asked how he should explain to an employer that his autism does not mean he is incapable of doing the job, even though it might appear so at the interview.

“Sell the employer on your education, skills, and abilities,” said Jacksic. Offer to take part in an internship program, or volunteer for a period of time. Applicants might ask members of their support network to contact the employer and vouch for their competence. They might use targeted intake programs that specialize in placing people with their disability. In this case, the Autism Resource Centre might be able to help.

One participant said she applied for a tour guide position and did not disclose her need for a scooter for mobility. “I didn’t get the position because I think, at the interview, the employer didn’t feel comfortable with having someone on a scooter doing that work. What could I have done differently?”

Thompson said if a potential employer seems unsure about an applicant’s capabilities, the applicant should try to reassure them, and emphasize their positive qualities. “Perhaps there could even be an advantage in your ability to zip around quicker,” she said.

“What is being done to provide sensitivity training for employers so that they are more aware of their obligations and responsibilities surrounding employing the disabled?” asked a participant.

Sali said the Neil Squire Society provides such training for employers, and also does visitations to workplaces to raise awareness. JAS also offers this service.

An increasing amount of documentation is available to demonstrate to employers the advantages of hiring people with disabilities, said Dillon. Statistics show that employees with disabilities take fewer sick days, they are more loyal to their employers and to the work, and the actual cost of accommodation is very low.

A participant asked for tips about applying for jobs online.

Submit resumés in text format only, said Thompson. Do not use bullets or bolding, but use capital letters for emphasis instead. Use only standard fonts (Courier 10 is best), and do not include graphics. Mirror the wording and language in the job description, and customize the resumé for the specific job.

“What can employers not ask during a job interview?” asked a participant.

Jacksic said an employer cannot ask anything about disability. They cannot ask in detail what accommodations might be required.

It is a delicate balance, said Dillon. “If you feel comfortable doing so, be prepared to mention what accommodations you use if you have a visible disability. If you have a non-visible disability, it is your individual choice as to what you discuss or disclose.”

A participant asked how to analyze job postings to see if they are good fit.

Thompson said applicants should evaluate the position based on their education, skills and experience, but they should not be too rigid. “If you can do three of the four things required in the job description, perhaps you could be trained for the fourth.”


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