A resume is an important tool in the job application process. It can either help you to secure an interview, or it can have your application moved to the bottom of the pile. To avoid this happening to you, we recommend paying careful attention to your resume’s structure, content and readability. Once these bases have been covered, you can consider how and if you’d like to mention your disability.
Firstly, when thinking about your resume’s structure, consider using a template. These can be downloaded for free from sites like Canva. By using a template, the content of your resume becomes easier to read, making it more likely to stand out to a prospective employer.
When creating your resume you should keep the following three questions in mind:
- Is it relevant?
- Is it clear?
- Is it concise?
By answering these questions you should be able to create a 1-3 page document that sells you as a candidate.
Now that that’s all out of the way, its time to consider the ways in which you can introduce your disability, if you chose to do so. It’s important to note that you are not under any obligation to disclose this information on your resume, unless you believe it may affect your ability to do the job. However, you may feel that because your disability is part of your identity you want to tell potential employers about it, in which case there are several stages where you can introduce yourself and your disability.
Within your resume
Use language and examples of experience that frame your disability as relevant to the role, such as what your disability has helped you to learn about yourself or others. For example, you may regularly host a support group for other people with disabilities and this has taught you fundraising and administrative skills. Another example of this might be that you are a para-athlete, and you believe that you can bring the skills associated with this (such as resilience and team work) into the role.
After you’ve secured an interview
You could introduce your disability when confirming interview arrangements with the employer. For example you could ask: “is your front entrance wheelchair accessible?”, or “just letting you know that my service dog will be attending the interview with me, so please make sure that there is room for them to sit”.
At the interview
If your disability is physical, you may not need to discuss it as it is self-evident. However, you may like to demonstrate to the interviewer that your ability to do the role won’t be affected by your disability. If your disability is not visible, you’re not required to disclose it unless you require special accommodations in the workplace such as a quiet space to work, or regular breaks to take medication.
You may choose not to mention it at all
If you choose not to mention your disability you must firstly ensure that you’re able to perform the requirements of the role without any restrictions. If you’re confident that your disability won’t prevent you from doing the job in any way then you are under no obligation to discuss it and are protected by anti-discrimination legislation if your interviewer or prospective employer presses you for unnecessary or irrelevant information.
Things to be aware of:
- You can’t control what people think, and if you do decide to disclose your disability on your resume it may be used as a reason to reject your application, depending on who is reading it. So, if you do decide to include your disability on your resume make sure you do so in a way that you feel comfortable with.
- You are protected under anti-discrimination law in instances where others have treated you unfairly due to your disability.
- If you have extended gaps in your work history due to your disability, you can simply explain this by writing “illness and recovery” next to the dates/periods in question. By stating “recovery”, you are demonstrating to the employer that you are ready to work.
Whatever your decision, be confident and unapologetic!