Job seekers who have a limb loss or limb difference often face more questions than other applicants. One of them is a question they ask themselves.
Should I explain my circumstances during the interview process?
During the Amputee Coalition’s concluding webinar in a special series for Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month, four members of the staff discussed their personal experiences. And, because they are four unique individuals, they offered four individual replies.
“The way we talk about disability is important,” Director of Community Engagement Lucas DeLuca said. “When we say disclose, it can seem like we have to say something or tackle something in a way that is inherently an accommodation-related item. ‘I’m going to talk about what I need or a challenge I may have.’
“You can choose to disclose your disability because it makes you a better applicant. That’s a really exciting piece of this puzzle.”
Government Relations Specialist Ryan Geddie said the Amputee Coalition was the first employer with which he talked about his congenital amputation during the hiring process. In this case, he felt it was relevant to the job he was seeking.
Previously, it was not.
“It’s an important part of my identity, but I don’t see it as the most key thing to know about me for the sake of employment in general,” Geddie said. “Typically, I just like to use that space on my resume for one of my other accomplishments.”
DeLuca said he places “amputee/creative educator” at the top of his resume.
“It is such a personal decision,” he said. “It’s this really interesting balance.”
Workforce Development Manager Trenaya Reid does not have to make a formal disclosure during in-person interactions. The wheelchair she uses is a visible sign of her physical disability.
“I would say I’ve been very grateful as far as being able to talk about my disability in disclosing my disability to my previous employers,” she said. “A lot of my employers that I’ve been with in the past, they focused on diversity, they focused on DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] efforts and embraced hiring those with disabilities.”
She recommended telling a potential employer if you think it will help you to showcase your ability to do the job.
Government Relations Director Whitney Doyle has spent her career working in the disability space. Her resume lists all of that work, but it doesn’t mention her own circumstance directly.
“Depending on the position, I may reference in a cover letter my disability,” she said. “I don’t go into the detail of whether my disability could be an asset or whatnot. I more so use it as a descriptor of myself.”
The panelists also offered a range of answers to this question: What do you believe is the most important skill/trait to have when applying for jobs as a person with a disability?
Doyle said creativity.
“For us who have disabilities, we’re often thinking outside the box for how can do whatever we want to do in our day-to-day life,” she said. “And I think that’s a skill and trait that we uniquely can bring to the workforce.”
Geddie and DeLuca had similar replies: tenacity.
“I think you have to have the tenacity and the strength of will to just keep applying, and keep applying yourself, until you get what you need,” Geddie commented. “And I think that’s a skill that we generally develop at a higher rate than potentially the able-bodied population.”
Recognizing the challenges and frustrations that come with any job search, Reid said she places high value on a positive mindset and self-confidence.
“I think the most important takeaway for that is to realize, ‘OK, what is something that I could have done differently or what is something that I could have said that might be better for a next interview?’”
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