Monday, November 2, 2009

The Job Hunt

Hunting for work is never easy, but for individuals with disabilities the question of "disclosure" arises. Do you tell an employer you are disabled? Do you assume certain group memberships or activities reveal the disability? What if people offering letters of reference mention the disability?

Honestly, I don't have any answers for what is or isn't best.

Since I use a cane at times, have a mildly noticeable limp, and one arm doesn't swing when I walk, I would have to say that most face-to-face interviews are going to reveal the more obvious (and minor) physical issues. None of them affect writing or technology work.

Neurological issues are a tad more complex, as are those things that might be considered "different" about me.

My wife says that intelligence is a disability, and I do agree that at some point you are odd because you're rare. I've thought about removing my American Mensa membership from documents, but that should actually be a good thing within academia and research.

So, do my speeches and work for various autism and special education groups signify anything to an employer? Probably. But I would assume those interested in education volunteer within their fields.

Explicitly disclosing seems risky, but I'm not sure there is an alternative. If you have a disability and want legal protections, you do have to disclose the situation and any special needs you might have.

I'm pondering many issues while job hunting. In the end, I'm sure anything and everything will be known by a hiring committee. The best I can hope for is some level of appreciation for difference.

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