In need of pep-talk? Sean Webber who works in recruitment is here to motivate you to go out there and make it happen. He speaks from experience as a person with disability (he has cerebral palsy) and has demonstrated tremendous tenacity from the moment he left school and entered the workforce to build a bright future for himself with every opportunity.
Since I entered the workforce some 14 years ago the recruitment process and programs for people with disability have come a long way. I remember in my last year at school the careers advisor had very limited information about employment opportunities for people who have disabilities. Without any solid advice to work with I took it upon myself to find something. I saw an ad for a business administration traineeship and applied. I went for the interview and I got it! I was over the moon because I was straight out of school and into a job whereas many of classmates were still struggling to find a career path.
Over the next year I gained my Business Administration Certificate III at TAFE and I was on my way getting my foot firmly in the door. I worked hard, I built a network of people around me from whom I could learn and grow. It created a momentum and I moved into other roles working in a company dealing in heavy vehicles, then into human resources. Each time I went through a merit selection process. I worked hard to prove myself and kept on building my network along the way. When I look back the key to my employment success was the relationships I built and the managers and mentors I’ve had since I’ve been working.
In more recent years I have seen a push towards targeted recruitment and other inclusion programs at entry level in the public sector. This is a positive change not only for people with disability but minority groups as a whole.
From an employer prospective there is plenty they can do to be more inclusive but there is a need for more publicity and greater awareness around the support and education available to assist employers recruit a person with disability.
If you are a candidate there is also a lot that can be done to improve your job prospects. Firstly you need to put yourself out there. Sure flag your disability, it is nothing to be ashamed of, but you need to focus on raising the bigger flag - your ABILITY! Your skills and your work ethic are qualities employers want when they are seeking talent for their organisation. Don’t be shy about letting them know what you have to offer and what you are passionate about.
Also, be realistic in your job hunting. Not everyone is cut out to be a university superstar. Whether you are aiming to be CEO or a cleaner, the principles are the same. You just need to be the best you can be and be committed to growing and improving.
Don’t sit back waiting for it to happen. If you’ve joined a job agency don’t be complacent and think “they will find me a job”. Be proactive. You will get knocked back, but don’t give up. It just means there is something better out there for you. It’s just a matter of finding it. Good Luck!