HomeBusinessCerebral palsy and employment: Tips for finding the right job.

Cerebral palsy and employment: Tips for finding the right job.

If you’ve experienced challenges when looking for work, you’re not alone. Searching for work can be a stressful time, especially if you’ve had setbacks or felt overlooked for jobs in the past.

Knowing what you want from a job and which careers would suit you is a good place to start, but it’s also important to reach out for help if you need it. 

Having the right support in place can help you feel more confident and empowered in your search for work.

Everyone’s symptoms will differ, and everyone’s journey to employment will too.

To get started, here are 8 tips for finding the right job when you’re living with cerebral palsy.

Know your goals

A great place to start is by brainstorming what you want from a job and where you want to be in the future. Creating realistic employment goals is a great way to stay motivated and look for the right opportunities.

Even if you don’t know what type of job you want, you can still create goals about the type of lifestyle you want to lead and other milestones you want to reach one day. For example, you might want to work close to your home or earn a particular salary.

Research job types and careers

Not all jobs will be the right fit for you. It’s important to consider your unique set of skills, interests and capabilities when looking for work. 

Talking with close friends, family and previous workmates may help shed some light on job types that might be a good fit. You can also talk with a professional employment consultant – they often have connections and insights that you might not have considered before.

For inspiration, try reading blogs and articles about jobs for people with cerebral palsy. You could also reach out to someone already working in a field you’re interested in. They may be able to give some first hand information. 

See if you’re eligible for employment services

If you’re living with cerebral palsy and finding it challenging to get a job, you could be eligible for government-funded support, such as Disability Employment Services.

Disability Employment Services provides support in finding a job for people with an injury, illness or disability. To be eligible, you need to be an Australian resident and able to work between 8 to 30 hours a week.

A local Disability Employment Services provider can help you with everything from career advice and finding job opportunities to writing your resume, preparing for interviews and accessing further training.

They can also help with assessing your new workplace and accessing the right support and workplace modifications for you to feel confident in your new role.

Search online and offline

Searching for jobs on employment websites and company careers pages is a good place to start when looking for work. Try setting up an alert for particular job types so that you can apply as soon as they become available.

Social media sites like LinkedIn can also be a useful tool for job searching. Make sure your profile is up to date and try connecting with others in the field you want to get into.

Don’t forget to use offline search methods too. Many jobs are filled through word of mouth, so it’s a good idea to tell people in your circle that you’re looking for work. 

You can also directly approach a company you want to work for and ask if they’re looking to hire. Just be sure to come ready to explain why you’d be a great person to hire and what you can offer to their company.

Customise your resume

Your resume and cover letter are a great opportunity to put your best foot forward with potential employers. If you don’t feel confident writing your own resume, try getting professional help – it may make your application stand out from the crowd in the right way.

You should customise your resume and cover letter for every job that you apply for rather than submitting the same documents everywhere. Use keywords and information that is most appropriate for the role and the company that you’re applying for.

Prepare and practice for interviews

Job interviews can be daunting but when you take the time to prepare and practice, you might feel more confident going into the interview. 

Practice answering common interview questions with a trusted family member or friend. Back up your statements with some concrete examples. For example, don’t just say you’re good at customer service. Give a real example of how your customer service skills have shone.

Staying calm and collected is important during an interview. Even if you don’t feel confident, try acting confidently by having good posture, making eye contact and speaking in an even tone. 

Keep in mind that you communicate with your body posture and facial expressions, not just through what you say. Choosing the right outfit, paying attention to your appearance and arriving on time can also say a lot.

Know your rights

You don’t have to tell a potential employer that you live with cerebral palsy unless it affects your ability to perform the essential tasks of the job. 

Deciding whether or not to disclose is a personal decision that you should think through carefully. Seeking professional or legal advice could help.

Some people find that telling an employer in the interview can help them start off on the right foot. The interviewer may not have experience working with a person who has cerebral palsy before and may have questions about your ability to perform certain tasks.

Australian employers are required to provide reasonable adjustments to the workplace or job tasks to make sure you can do the job safely and properly. Explaining what you will need to perform the job well may help the employer make your transition into the role easier.

If you feel that you have been unfairly treated or overlooked for a job because of your disability, you can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Aim for long term success

Finding a job where you thrive can be a long journey, and it’s important to reach out for help along the way if you need it. Whether you’re looking for your first job, changing careers or hoping to get back into the workforce, job hunting can take a toll. 

Be sure to make time to look after yourself, check in with your support network and invest in your mental health. Having these habits in place is a great way to set yourself up for success when you get a job and transition into your new role.

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