Cracking the job market—tips to help you land you next role
Of the more than four million Australians living with disability, just under half are of working age. But, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, people with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed than people without disabilities.
Karla Fernee, the lead for the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator, which is the employer engagement team at JobAccess, says that people with disability face a variety of challenges when it comes to looking for work.
“People with disability can experience inherent barriers to looking for and keeping work. These range from discriminatory attitudes during recruitment to low awareness of employment rights and poor physical or technological accessibility,” Karla said.
“A lack of awareness and understanding among employers is a barrier that can impact the participation of people with disability in the workplace. A survey commissioned by the Department of Social Services just in 2018 found that 77% of businesses believed it was important to include people with disability in the organisation.
“However, nearly 40% of employers viewed that as a step into the unknown. And what this means is employers are willing to employ people with disability but really don’t know where to begin.”
This is where the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator or NDRC can help. The NDRC works with employers, providing expert advice, resources and strategies to improve their disability confidence. The partnerships are designed to help identify and remove any attitudinal, systemic and operational barriers to employing people with disability.
Identify inclusive organisations
Karla has worked with the NDRC for more than eight years, so she has plenty of great advice for how you can secure your next—or first—job. She says when you’re on the job hunt, a good starting point it to identify employers who are already working to be inclusive and accessible.
“An easy way to do this is by reviewing their website and identifying things like diversity statements within the careers or about us pages, often welcoming people with disability to apply.”
Once you’ve looked through the lists of organisations, you can make a list of the available jobs that interest you. And don’t be put off if you don’t meet all the criteria for a role. Often, organisations hire people who are the right fit for the role or the business, not necessarily the person who ticks all the skills boxes.
Making a good first impression
Once you’ve found a job that catches your attention, the next step is preparing your resume. Karla says when it comes to job applications, it’s often the little details that need that extra focus.
“It may sound like a small detail, but a well-written application can really go a long way in creating a good first impression.
“Ask a friend to edit for simple errors such as spelling, you would really be surprised how many employers reject applications for basic editing mistakes so, tapping a friend on the shoulder is a very valuable resource.
“Before you start writing the application really research the employer and the position that you’re applying for. Identify your skills, knowledge, experience, and qualifications that suit the advertised role. When preparing the application only include the skills and experience that are relevant to the job.”
Preparing for the interview
So, you’ve found a great job, prepared your resume and submitted your application, and now you’ve been invited in for an interview. How can you ensure you feel prepared and ready for what can be a scary process?
“Being prepared for the interview can really help make you feel more confident about how you perform on the day,” Karla said. “Think about the skills and attributes the job requires and have your answers prepared in advance.
“For example, during the interview, the employer may ask why they should choose you for the job or how your abilities and qualities meet the job requirements. It might be good to ask a friend or family member to practice with you and get an idea of how you will answer the question.
“Like for anything else, practice will certainly help build your confidence, really hone the message that you want to get across. And so, tap a friend or family member on the shoulder–it really does help build your confidence. And, you know, if you aren’t successful right away, remember that each application is a learning opportunity to practice your interview skills.”
Remember too that experience and knowledge doesn’t just come from paid work.
“Employees also really do like to hear about work experience, or volunteer work that you have done that may be also be relevant to the role,” Karla said. “Coordinating a sports team event requires skills and abilities, whether it’s paid employment or volunteer work, and can still demonstrate those attributes for the role.”
If you are registered with a Disability Employment Service provider, they can also offer guidance and support to help you prepare for the interview.
Helpful resources and supports
Looking for work can absolutely be challenging but Karla says the best advice is to approach the process with confidence.
“People with disability often have more to offer an employer than they realise. When looking for work, identify and list your strengths and weaknesses. Think about your skills, interests and abilities [and what] you can offer an employer. When talking to employers be confident about your skills and circumstances and keep discussions to the point.
“Use positive words such as I can to highlight your skills, knowledge, experience, and to explain how you’ll get the job done. For example, employers with limited knowledge of workplace adjustments… may not always understand how you would go about performing a certain task. Just let them know you how you will be able to complete the task.”
There are a number of resources and supports that can assist you on your path to finding work.
– Employment Assistance Fund
– Disability Employment Service
– The Australian Network on Disability