Employment Advice For Persons With Developmental Disabilities
I am missing out on many employment opportunities because I struggle with the online job boards’ complicated application process. Because of my disabilities, I can’t figure out how to manage the posting of my profile, and how to effectively use this system. Although I have excellent computer skills, and understand the applicant tracking system, I am approaching you to find out how I can overcome the barriers that face me with this modern digital way of finding work?
Signed: Missing out
I agree with you. There seems to be a challenge with the algorithms of the online job boards that present barriers to persons with disabilities. With the changing face of the Canadian talent pool as the aging population increases in North America, the number of potential candidates and employees who identify as persons with disabilities will be one in five – up 13.5% – by 2025. (Statistics quoted at a JOIN 2011 Conference, by HH David C. Onley, LG of Ontario). The question is if and how the online job boards and their software developers can expand their algorithms to include the talent trends?
Referring to an insightful article by Chris Farrell who discusses the gap in the resume and work history as one of the problems with the online job boards for older candidates. This is relevant to job seekers with disabilities. So, it is difficult to complete the forms in the drop down menu of this section. What about the drop-down menu requiring the year of graduation, or the first job with dates prior to 1990?
To expand my research on this topic, I consulted with Tim Rose, founder of Disability Positive Consulting, who recommends the following advice to candidates on how to handle the online job boards:
- Manage your expectations. Do not put too much pressure on yourself. A professional presence can be daunting, so commit to tackling it one piece at a time – start small. It is also really important to stay positive, even though that can be really tough, because it will reflect in your profile. Above all, ask for help. Register with supported employment programs in your area. Don’t look for work alone. An online job board can be a fantastic tool, but it should not be the only thing in your toolbox! Searching for a job needs a complete approach, and sites like magnet.today can be a great way to build connections and look for jobs.
- Diversify your job search strategies. Keep your skills, experience and networking up-to-date and you never know what can happen! Continue building your network and connections. Use technology to your advantage. It makes it easier to build your connections including social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to name a few. Talk to people in your field or related directly by attending and networking at industry events, conducting information interviews and finding as many opportunities as you can to meet people one-on-one.
- Understanding the barriers and solutions. Face the facts. Don’t be afraid to understand the barriers of the online job boards’ platforms that you have researched. After you understand this, it’s time to face your biggest barriers – motivation and self-stigma. There are also so many platforms out there that it can be hard to know where to turn. Also, depending on your disability, issues like language, and non screen-reader friendly job boards can also pose major barriers. Most of today’s online job boards are designed with accessibility in mind, and is constantly evolving and updating to make sure it remains accessible. If you have a recommendation to help these sites be more accessible, call or email the team. Excellent networking strategy by the way!
- The applicant tracking system. Online job boards including company’s career centres, operate on the “Applicant Tracking System” (ATS). Make sure you plug in the keywords targeted to your career/employment goal in the resume and profile. You can also access a learning centre with lots of great resources to keep your motivation high. You can also call or email the team to help you with the application process or work together with the job coach who is helping you with your job search.
- Keep current. I never had a lot of luck with online job boards in the 4+ years that I was unemployed. But the thing about job searching is you never know where that next lead will come from. So I always kept my profiles up-to-date and a resume at the ready. I also checked a few job boards frequently (I made a set schedule for myself) to make sure I didn’t miss any postings that may be a match.
To submit your questions and comments to this column in confidence, please email Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Specialist at Reena.