The Job Search Process: Applicants with Dis/Abilities.

Tips from Lime Connect: When and How to Disclose for Success

Lime Connect is an organization which focuses on revolutionizing the way people think about disability. Their mission is to “rebrand disability through achievement.”  Lime Connect provides resources, workshops and networking events to facilitate the job search and career journeys of individuals with disabilities. As the University of Pittsburgh is a University Partner of Lime Connect, the career center has the opportunity to attend professional development webinars.

During the Lime Connect webinar offered on August 23rd, which focused on the When and How of Disclosure, I learned that disclosing your disability is a personal choice and not a requirement. Many applicants may question who sees the self-disclosure box on an application form. The self-disclosure check box is not seen by the hiring manager, this is purely for census data purposes.

When and how to disclose:

Disclosure can be a complex decision, and there are important factors to consider when you make that decision. Focus on timing that is best for you. In most cases, you are not required to disclose your disability during or before and initial application process. You can choose to disclose after receiving a job offer, or even after you have started your new position. Consider the value in sharing information about your disability in fostering open communication between you and your employer which can lead to a more inclusive and supportive working environment. Here are some examples of different times you may consider disclosing:

  1. On your Resume:
  • Include organizations that you may have worked, volunteered or served with/for related to neurodiversity and disability.
  • Create action verb statements which may incorporate a phrase on how you achieved success as a student/worker/ member with a disability.

2. During your Interview:

  • Refer to strengths-based experiences.
  • Share how you overcame challenges through experiencing being in an awkward position.
  • Adress and utilize relevant language to sell you as a candidate.
  • Emphasize your ability and skills to contribute to the organization.
  • If relevant – focus on how certain accommodations will enable you to perform your job effectively.
  • You may be asked about gaps in employment on your resume – this is a great opportunity to share how you have faced some challenges and have learned to manage your condition effectively. Furthermore, focus on how those experience have only strengthened your resilience and organizational skills – and how excited you are about the opportunity to contribute your skills. You can also mention that you are confident about your ability to excel in the role.

3. After receiving the job offer/during onboarding:

  • Some employers who may request drug tests, and in this case, disclosing prior to the drug tests would be advised if any medications, for example seizure medication may interfere with the drug test results.
  • Understand your rights regarding the confidentiality of your medical information.
  • It is important to let HR know of accommodations that you may need.

4. Once you are employed:

  • Remember, it is your choice to disclose, and to do so if it is in your best interest, and especially if you need accommodations.
  • Choose a trusted individual to disclose to, such as your manager, immediate supervisor, or HR. They should be someone who can support and address your needs and concerns.
  • An example of an important discussion to have with your supervisor and office colleagues may be what to do, and what not to do in the instance of epileptic seizures.

Remember, there is no perfect or one-way approach to disclosure. Frame your disclosure in a positive light. Take your time, consider your individual circumstances, and make the decision that aligns with your needs and goals.

Feel free to schedule an appointment with your career consultant through HANDSHAKE, and make sure to also check out the Ability Job Boards and the General Support and Legal Resources

All the best!

Ingrid Beute – Career Consultant, Pitt Career Center

By Ingrid Beute
Ingrid Beute Career Consultant, Engineering & Science & Career Champions Program Coordinator