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When to disclose your disability
While searching for the job a major decision that has to be taken is to think about when to disclose your disability. This decision is a personal and depends on the nature of person’s disability as well as the knowledge about ones the prospective employer. One may feel apprehensive about this decision as it would lead to doubts in the mind if disclosure of disability would mean losing the job. But if you feel confident about your hiring and you employer’s making of reasonable changes and accommodations then you need to consider when to inform about your disability to your employer. If you physical condition is no hindrance to your functioning and completion of your job, then you may not even disclose it. Thus disclosure of disability can be a delicate matter of communication. It can be taken as a sign of character, strength, and confidence and can prove very crucial to your obtaining of the job. Various options about how to disclose your disability as employers might be having prejudices of their own:
If you are going to get a job through referral then you need not worry as the employer would already knowing about your problem. The person who had made referral might have already told about you before the interview. This situation could be the ideal most as both you and your prospective employer would be feeling comfortable. But most people with disabilities do not have this advantage. But such situations are rare.
On Your Resume
Your work history, education and life experience can also show your disability. So in this case one should not hide but clearly spell it out about ones limitations. One needs to emphasize ones adaptability, flexibility, and talents in the presence of disability. But you need to be mentally prepared that you might lose few job opportunities if you mention your disability in the resume as some of the employers might be having inevitable bias against disabilities. And even if such employers do hire you there are chances of their being unfair to you after you get the job. But still if you decide to disclose your disability in your resume, you may not place it in the opening paragraph. Information needs to be weaved into your resume in a subtle manner.
In Your Cover Letter
It can prove advantageous for you if you discuss your disability openly in a cover letter. Some employers specifically recruit the disabled to meet affirmative action or goals or because they may be getting some accommodations from the government authorities for hiring the people with disabilities. But you should not start the cover letter with details about your disability. You must follow the standard format for cover letters and at the end of the second paragraph; you need to describe your strengths and your limitations. You must continue with describing how you will perform the essential functions of the job.
On the Application Form
Some organizations and large corporations require all job hunters to complete a standardized form. Some forms have a section for disability disclosure but it is not compulsory to disclose your disability. You are not required by law to discuss your limitation. The major disadvantage of disclosing the disability in this way is that you may not have any option on the form to describe accommodations or how you overcome your limitations. But some corporations or employers are very supportive of disabled employees and this would be an appropriate time to disclose.
During the Interview If the prospective employer does not know about the disability of the candidate, and if the candidate walks in for the interview, there can be a situation of Shock for the employer. This can lead to mistrust and nervousness on the part of the interviewer. So in case of visible (for example, being wheelchair bound, blind, walking with a cane), one needs to prepare the employer beforehand. This can be done at the time when the interviewer calls to set-up an appointment. One should not disclose to a secretary or office assistant as the there can be a mistake in relaying the message. But if the disability is not visible (for example, a learning disability or wearing a hearing aid), one may not have to prepare the interviewer.
After the job has been offered
Disclosing the disability after the job has been offered can be a little stressful. But this may be a temporary situation. Remember you have been offered the job on the basis of your talents and skills and you have passed the competition. So the employer, if after knowing your condition retracts from his decision you have right to take legal action. After Beginning the Job This gives you can opportunity to let your talents known before you disclose a limitation. If your impairment or limitation is not hampering your initial work, this may be the best choice. You can make friends with co-workers, staff, and supervisors to strengthen your employment position during this time and so your disability won’t be a problem to anyone.
If your disability will not effecting the essential functions of your job, you may even choose even not want to tell your employer about your disability. You can do this after you have worked for a substantial period of time. But the ultimate choice is yours. But before reaching at any decision you need to have a bit of preparation and role playing the situation. Let some member of your family or friend of yours pretend to be an interviewer with a list of questions. Let that person objectively list the benefits of hiring you. Doing this will enhance your comfort level.
Always keep in mind that it is legal for the employer to ask you if you have the ability to perform all of the essential functions of the job and ask you to demonstrate how you would do so effectively. The bottom line is that there is no general rule about the disclosure of disability but there are many options to do that. It all comes down to your specific disability, opinion on disclosure and comfort level in discussing your situation