Applying for a job with a disability or impairment

Applying for a job with a chronic illness, disability or impairment? Read our tips for creating a CV and a cover letter, and for the job interview here.

Applying for a job is always a bit nerve-racking, but when you are dealing with an occupational disability, a job application can be even more stressful. What is obvious to someone without a disability is a completely different story for a job seeker with a disability. You may feel that you are 1-0 behind. Sometimes you are not even invited for an interview or you don’t make it through the first round because of your disability. Getting help with finding a job when you have a disability is especially welcome. That is why we have listed job application tips for people with a chronic illness, limitation or disability.

In this blog, we will discuss the following matters:

  • Which job suits which disability?
  • What can I do as a job seeker with a disability?
  • Applying for a job with a disability
  • How do you prepare for a job interview?
  • Should I discuss my disability or not?

Which job suits which disability?

With a disability or impairment, it can be difficult to find a suitable job. Nevertheless, it is useful to work on finding a job. Because having a job is not just great for the money and your own development. Work also provides a nice and useful fill-in of the day, the necessary structure and great social contacts.

Research by the Dutch Patients Federation has shown that having a job makes people with a chronic illness happier!

Do you have a chronic illness? This may lead to limiting situations during your work in various ways. You may need to go to the hospital a little more often, you might be more sensitive to working with certain substances or need to eat at set times or take your medication. Nevertheless, job opportunities are usually very extensive for people with a chronic illness.

A large part of the working population has a chronic illness: as much as 20%! So when it comes to applying for a job with a chronic illness, you are definitely not alone.

Mental disabilities also offer many prospects for finding suitable employment. There are currently many opportunities for someone with an intellectual disability via, for instance, the well-known workfit. They provide a variety of supportive workplaces.

Do you have dyscalculia or dyslexia? Then there are plenty of options for a suitable job, for example in the creative or social sector. And did you know that there are even writers with dyslexia? American author Dav Pilkey for example. It goes to show: there are many possibilities, even if the letters and numbers sometimes dance in front of your eyes.

Finally, of course, many people have autism or ADHD. These are not limitations, but rather neuro-diversities that ensure that not all types of work will be a success. A quiet workplace and a job with lots of structure are then your best options.

What can I do as a job seeker with a disability?

We have created a short table for the types of positions you are eligible for with a disability below. Did you know that as many as 1 in 5 working Dutch people have some form of a chronic illness or condition? There’s something for everyone, and that includes working with a disability. In the next chapter, we will elaborate on a number of the examples in the table.

Type of disabilityGetting started as
Physical disabilityAdministrative, creative positions and knowledge work
Sensory disabilityTelephone sales, webcare, and many office roles
Chronic disabilityAlmost all positions are possible, 20% of the workforce has a chronic illness
Mental disabilityWarehouse, bicycle store and supermarket
Dyscalculia/dyslexiaCreative or social sector
Autism / ADHDA quiet workplace with lots of structure

Applying for a job with a disability

With an employment disability, it is unfortunately a fact that you cannot perform all types of work. Someone who is blind will not become a driver, someone who is deaf will not become an interpreter, and someone in a wheelchair will not become a guide on mountain hikes. But of course, as a job seeker with a disability, there are plenty of jobs that you can do! Below, we provide three tips for applying for a job with a disability.

Tip 1: Focus on what you can do

First, explore the answer to the question: What can I do? To this end, you mainly focus on what you can do within the limits of your disability. For example, if you are deaf or hard of hearing, it is better to work as a webcare employee than as a call center employee. Therefore, think in terms of possibilities, and ask yourself to what extent you can perform your job properly. Also, be mindful that you don’t work in a position that might make your condition worse: your health always comes first.

Do not ignore questions such as “What do I want?” and “Who am I?” and “What am I looking for?” Look for a position that you can not only perform well with your disability, but that you would also enjoy. Job satisfaction matters!

Do you have a clear idea of what you are looking for? Then creating a CV should be your next step.

Tip 2: Don’t mention your disability on your CV

On your CV, do not mention anything about your disability. Only list your education, work experience, a profile, and skills that may be relevant to the position.

You can also mention volunteer work and additional tasks, such as being the treasurer of the neighborhood association. Creating a CV is actually no different for someone with a disability compared to someone without a disability. In this article on creating a CV, you’ll learn all about it.

Tip 3: Mention the resources

Have you previously received benefits? Then this will benefit your future employer! So read up on that. In fact, many employers are not aware of all the financial benefits that are available for hiring an employee with a disability.

It can therefore be useful to refer to this in your cover letter. For example, think of:

  • subsidies for necessary workplace modifications
  • supervision by a job coach
  • the possibility of a trial placement with benefit retention.

These matters are made possible by the specific legal rights people with a disability have. For more information, you can always contact your municipal office.

Have you been invited to a job interview? Then make sure you have a clear overview of the possible benefits. Combined with your knowledge and skills, that may just help an employer make a decision. You can read more about these benefits on this government page.

When do you apply for a job with a disability?

If you have recently developed a disability, for example due to illness or an accident, you may be asking yourself when is the right time to start applying for jobs. Naturally, you don’t want to start overburdening yourself with any work when you’re not ready.

On the other hand, the longer you sit at home, the greater your distance from the labor market becomes, and the higher the threshold to get back into it will be.

Ultimately, the consideration for when you can return to work with a chronic condition or disability is one that is best made in consultation with your doctor and possibly the UWV. And you don’t have to start full time right away! Finding (volunteer) work somewhere for a few days a week can be a great way to get back into the workforce.

How do you prepare for a job interview?

Have you been invited to a job interview? Then it’s time to properly prepare for your job interview. Think about what questions might be asked, read up on the potential employer, and think of questions you want to ask.

An example: suppose you have a visual impairment and are applying for a position for which good vision is of added value, but not essential. Because your disability may interfere with how you perform, you are required to inform your potential employer. If there is no impact on your performance, then there is no need to tell your employer.

This means you don’t have to tell anyone anything about your disability if it doesn’t interfere with your performance. Still, many people want to be open about their situation to prevent their disability from eventually coming out and taking the employer by surprise. But what do you tell and when do you tell it?

Mentioning illness on your application or CV: yes or no? Should you or should you not mention an illness on your application or CV? It depends on many things, but one thing you want to avoid is discrimination.

Should I discuss my disability or not?

Tip 1: Explain your disability later in the conversation

Don’t jump right in about your disability during the first meeting. You are not your disability and this is not how you want to present yourself. First convince your interviewer why you of all people are suitable for the job. Alternatively, you can also explain disabilities during a second interview or at the benefits meeting.

If you have a visible disability or impairment, do discuss this briefly during the initial interview. By the way, an employer should never ask about your health on their own accord. So you are not required to answer such questions. If you do, indicate that your condition is not a limitation for the position.

If you need an adapted workplace, for example because you have a physical disability, do not mention this until your final interview either. By that time, employers are already convinced of your abilities and will change their minds less quickly than if they do not yet have an established relationship with you.

Tip 2: Keep it short and positive

Don’t engage in a long-winded conversation about your disability. Briefly mention it and emphasize what you can do rather than what you can’t. Keep it positive and be confident about the qualities you will add as an employee.

Tip 3: Don’t give up

When you do face rejection on your cover letter, it can be tough to continue applying. Do not give up! Ask the recruiter or HR manager why you were not invited, so you know what you can do differently or better next time. And make sure you have support in your community so you can share your disappointment and then move on. You will find the job that suits you best!

By means of active recruiting, over 100,000 jobs will be created for people with disabilities in the coming years. If it doesn’t work right away, don’t give up! More great jobs are on the way. A good example is GXO Widnes that hires people with disabilities as Warehouse Operatives.

On our site you can choose from a number of successful templates that will get you started. These have been tested by recruiters. You can also perfectly match your cover letter with your CV. In fact, we have created matching cover letter templates that will make your application instantly look professional!

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