Disability Employment Resources 101

disability employment resourcesBy Sarah Laugtug, career consultant and executive editor of ilivewithadisability.com

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released the October 2011 disability employment data, and the news was encouraging. According to the news release, unemployment for people with disabilities ages 16-64 was 13.2 percent. This number may seem high, but in October 2010, unemployment for people with disabilities was at 14.8 percent. This means that in the past year, the number dropped by 1.6 percent.

To keep this number on the decline, here is a list of resources to help people with disabilities find jobs:

Career exploration

Searching for a job in this economy is tough, so be kind to yourself by seeking support. There are several resources available to assist you during your job exploration stage. Check out the vocational rehabilitation services in your area; you can meet with a counselor to discuss how you can attain your vocational goals. If you are interested in starting your own business, talk to your VR counselor about that option. The U.S. Small Business Administration connects people with business resources.

Visit your local Career OneStop center to find workshops in your town on completing applications, writing résumés and networking. OneStop centers have connections to employers and job fairs and can hook you up with a VR counselor. For job exploration ideas, O*NET can help you find jobs categorized by industry, skill set, interests, education level and career cluster.

Having trouble filling out a job application? Need an accommodation? The EEOC provides practical examples and answers to questions specifically about job applications and accommodations. What can employers ask in an interview, and which questions are illegal? The EEOC is the enforcement agency for disability employment and investigates acts of employment discrimination.

Resources for veterans with disabilities

Authorized by Congress, Vet Success assists veterans with disabilities in finding and maintaining employment. Services include job training, apprenticeships, assistance in keeping jobs and independent living skills for those who need it.

Career OneStop offers a dedicated re-employment of veterans section, which includes translating military job experience to civilian jobs. It also provides advice on making the transition into civilian life.

Resources for youth and college students

Young adults can find relevant information on the Department of Labor's Office for Disability Employment Policy website. "Essential Skills to Getting a Job" is an indispensible guide for high-school students and young adults entering the workforce. It offers tips on workplace behavior, networking and the soft skills necessary for successful employment. "Entry Point!" is an American Association for the Advancement of Science program that offers mentoring and internship opportunities throughout the U.S. College students should also seek out their campus career centers for job leads, résumé assistance and job fair information.

Disability-friendly job boards

There are many websites dedicated to helping job seekers find disability-friendly employers. Here are some sites to kick-start your job search:

  • The U.S. Business Leadership Network represents more than 5,000 employers and supports the advancement of people with disabilities in employment. This can be used to research different companies involved with the USBLN to determine whether they are committed to hiring and promoting people with disabilities.

  • AbilityLinks provides networking opportunities between job seekers and disability-friendly employers, along with mentoring from professionals with disabilities. Most of the jobs posted are executive, professional and managerial positions.

  • Disaboom Jobs includes disability-friendly employers and links to available job openings. You can post your résumé, search for jobs and read job-related articles, including those on finding disability-friendly employers.

  • GettingHired.com provides "careers for talented people with disabilities" and includes unique services, such as mentoring, employment forums, job-search tools and assessments. Jobs range from entry level to executive positions.

  • ABILITYJobs, a division of Ability magazine, is the largest job board for people with disabilities. You can post your résumé and cover letter, set up job alerts and search a database of more than 10,000 jobs.

Government resources

Disability.gov offers a wealth of disability information of all sorts, including extensive employment tools. This website provides job seekers with links to career planning, job retention, self-employment and employment law. It also includes information for employers.

The Job Accommodation Network, a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, offers employment guidance to job seekers, employees and employers. If you have any questions related to disability employment, this is the place to go.

The great thing about the Internet is that information is so accessible, but with so much information available, it's easy to feel lost. Hopefully this list will serve as a helpful guide in your quest to find and keep a satisfying job.

Already found a great job? Tell the world what you can do through the "What Can YOU Do?" disability employment campaign.

Sarah Laugtug is a writer, career consultant, and the executive editor at ilivewithadisability.com. You can view more of her work here.

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