7 Things Employers Want Parents to Know About Hiring Candidates With Disabilities
If you’re the parent of someone living with a disability, you know better than anyone the wonderful skills your child can offer the world.
But it’s not always easy to communicate those abilities to potential employers, particularly when your son or daughter is taking his or her first steps into the working world.
Employers want workers to be job-ready and productive on day one. But everybody has to start somewhere, and with absent work experience, your child will need to convince an employer that he or she is malleable, teachable and worth investing in.
Volunteer experience can be a great substitute — many employers recognize that volunteering builds confidence and job skills much like paid work does.
People living with disabilities (PLWD) may work differently, but they can still work effectively. You must temper employers’ expectations by transparently describing your child’s abilities, but you’ll also need to meet them in the middle by cultivating any skills that your child might currently lack.
What Do Employers Expect From Your Child?
As an employer and the father of a son living with disabilities, take it from me — your child will need to demonstrate these assets to convince an employer to hire him or her.
1. The ability to accept and comprehend directions
This is a foundational requirement for any valuable employee. Coach your son or daughter on the importance of meeting deadlines and obeying directives before he or she sets foot in an interview.
2. The ability to accept constructive criticism
The right employers want employees to improve in their skills, and constructive criticism is an important step in that process. To be a strong employee, your child must respect an employer’s feedback and use it to grow.
3. Promptness and courteousness
It’s essential that your child arrive on time and ready to work each day. Employers are human, and they can be flexible if your child must be late one day, but remember: flexibility has to be earned first. Your child should also be courteous and kind at work. Employers and other employees will be willing to help when asked politely.
4. Dependable transportation
Transportation is a significant issue for many PLWD. You can help your child by developing a transportation plan, complete with schedules and costs, as a part of the job search process. When your child has reliable transportation to and from his or her job, he or she can be on time and prepared to work each day.
5. Acceptance of his or her disability
Everybody has strengths and corresponding areas for improvement, particularly in the workplace. Your son or daughter must accept his or her disability if he or she wants to grow. Employers want to facilitate that growth to ensure their business prospers, and they must provide accommodations by law.
6. A support network
We all need help finding our footing in a new job, and it’s our responsibility as parents to support our children in their endeavors. Family and friends can help with transportation, accommodations, training, or even connections to available jobs. Just don’t be too hands-on — how would you like it if your mother showed up to your workplace each day?
7. A desire to work
It’s tough to do great work at a job you don’t care about. If your child wants the job, he or she will be willing to do what’s necessary to keep it. If he or she isn’t actually interested in a job, it’ll show in his or her work.
The Job Search and Working World
Even with employers’ expectations in mind, navigating the interviewing and hiring processes can still be difficult.
Begin by looking for the right employer. Savvy employers recognize that they need to access new labor pools to reach new talent, and reaching out to PLWD can pay big dividends. Just in the U.S., nearly 57 million Americans are PLWD, and hundreds of millions more love somebody with a disability. If you’re not sure where to start, begin by reaching out to federal contractors, who are required by law to employ PLWD in their workforces.
To maximize your job search — and make the road easier for other PLWD — you should be sure to support businesses that hire PLWD. The more these businesses thrive, the more employees they need, and they’ll look first to loyal supporters to fill those seats. The more PLWD they hire, the more stereotypes disappear about what PLWD can accomplish.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to talk about the hills and valleys of your job search. We can all learn from one another’s mistakes — it’s one of the best ways to support our children.
The job search will be tough, but keep your spirits high. Failure is OK. Losing a job or not receiving a callback is a difficult experience, but more importantly, it’s a chance to learn, start fresh, and do better next time.
For more tips on what you can do as a parent to help your child find employment, click here.
This article was co-authored by Chuck Blossom, 100 Percent Wine’s talent scout. Chuck successfully managed one of the largest employers of PLWD in Missouri for more than a decade.