As the pandemic continues to recede and more businesses amp up their hiring, many job seekers have found themselves in a stronger position to negotiate their salary or working conditions. However, for some individuals with disabilities, finding a new job isn’t so simple, and the stress of being without financial stability is compounded by the discouragement of a lengthy medical recovery time and possible limitations.
Looking for work may feel like an uphill battle, but it’s been the experience of our customers at Allsup that more employers are willing to be flexible and accommodate the needs of employees than they were before the pandemic began. If you are feeling discouraged by the process of applying for work, or fear discrimination as a result of your disability, here are a few tips to stay motivated and confident that you will find a job that best suits your skills and interests.
1. Make the most of your grassroots network.
The first hurdle in finding a job is finding the right fit and making employers aware of your interest or availability. This is the perfect opportunity to reach out to friends, family and former work colleagues to let them know you’re ready or approaching readiness to return to work. Your personal and professional network is a good place to start your search, as these contacts may have leads or suggestions of companies or industries that would make reaching out worthwhile. Even if your immediate circle can’t point you in the direction of a job right now, they can probably suggest someone else in their circle of acquaintances for networking. Remember that you don’t have to tackle this challenge alone, especially if you can expand your network.
2. Utilize ALL resources available to you.
Maybe you’ve already exhausted your personal network. But just as connecting with friends and colleagues can help jumpstart your job search, there are professionals dedicated to helping guide you through the process of reentering the workforce. If you are among the 13 million people receiving Social Security disability benefits, consider the Ticket to Work (TTW) program. It is a free resource that connects individuals with disabilities to Employment Networks (EN) that offer career planning, job leads, and job placement assistance. Also, some disability advocacy. organizations provide job assistance or manage specialized job posting sites, such as the American Association of People with Disabilities.
Others that can help you may be local community centers, houses of worship or online support groups, no matter where you live or your mobility level. In the same way that you should lean on your loved ones for support, be sure to take advantage of all the professional and community resources at your disposal.
3. Be proud of all that you bring to the table.
Most importantly, recognize that returning to work after recovering from a disability isn’t easy. Give yourself credit for how far you have come and remain confident that you can make a solid contribution for your next employer. July is Disability Pride Month, so this is the best time to reaffirm that your disability is a part of your life, but it doesn’t have to define what you can or can’t do. Remember that your skills and experiences are valuable assets and that the right employer will value you for everything you offer.
One of our customers said it best: “Don’t let your disability be a crutch for you to lean on. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and remember that there’s a purpose in life for everyone. Figure out what you want out of life and take that first step toward a better future.”
Returning to work after any period of absence is challenging, and returning after undergoing recovery from an illness or injury is more challenging. The keys to staying motivated despite the difficulties are to lean on your network, ask for help when you need it, and take pride in your worth as an individual and an employee. More opportunities and flexibility are likely to follow in the months to come, so keep your spirits high and do your best to stay positive as you continue down the path towards reemployment.
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