People with disabilities are sometimes pigeon-holed into a monolithic group of people to be pitied and cuddled. This could lead to some people labeled as disabled to quit the workforce and stop believing in their abilities, even though they are perfectly
capable of returning to the workforce, and even though they have a lot to offer prospective employers.
For others labeled as disabled, if they defy the “disabled” label, they are then labeled as being “overly ambitious,” for even wanting to try to re-enter the workforce. It’s almost as if people expect those labeled as disabled to be stuck in this gear for the rest of their lives, as though the “disabled” label is a prison sentence.
However, if you are a person with a disability, there is no reason you can’t put yourself back into the game and return to the workforce – if that is your desire. The Ticket to Work program offered by the Social Security Administration, recognizes that many people with physical, mental or health challenges still wish to be a part of the workforce; and the SSA provides a ton of job tips resources to this population.
Here are five job search tips for individuals participating in the Ticket to Work program:
1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU
Is it “ambitious” to want to return to work after being on disability? Maybe some people would look at it that way. For others, it is not a question of being “ambitious”, it is just a natural progression from being temporarily sidelined because of a disability
and getting back into the game of life and work.
If you are someone who has been receiving disability benefits and you would like to return to work, the Ticket to Work Program is a way to obtain free resources that will facilitate your transition back into the workforce. The Ticket to Work program is a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration for people with disability who want to return to the workforce. Specifically, the Ticket to Work program is “Access to Employment Support Services for Social Security Disability
Beneficiaries Who Want to Work.”
What this means is that if you are a person receiving disability benefits and you would like to return to work, there is a lot of assistance that is available to you through the Ticket to Work Program. You can get help with drafting your resume, editing your resume, writing your cover letter, interview practice, job placement, and rehabilitation assistance, among other types of assistance. Take advantage of these benefits. Contact your local Ticket to Work administrator or approved service provider.
2. PUT YOUR BEST FACE FORWARD
Just because you have a disability does not mean that you are not an asset to a potential employer. Call it ambition, or whatever you want, but you can still be an invaluable employee even if you are dealing with a disability. The key is in how you
present yourself. Put your best face forward. Don’t dwell on all the negatives. Instead, accentuate the positives about yourself and your work experience. Practice your pitch before you make it, obviously. Don’t go into an interview cold without any preparation. Whether you are dealing with a disability or not, the rules are the same in the sense that everyone has to prepare beforehand (practice in your mirror if necessary) before they are able to put their best face forward.
3. TAILOR YOUR RESUME FOR EVERY JOB
This is a rule that applies to all job seekers, not just those with a disability. You have to tailor your resume to every job. The fact is, we are all qualified to do many different things. All workers have multiple skills, aptitudes, and interests. The longer you have been in the workforce, the more skills and knowledge you would have acquired over time. Different jobs will prioritize different skills and aptitudes. So, it is necessary to arrange and tweak your resume to reflect the skills and aptitudes that you possess in
order to “put your best face forward” and possibly get a call for the interview. If, instead, you leave your most relevant skills and aptitudes for the job you are applying for dormant on your resume, it is less likely that you will receive an invitation for an
4. MAKE YOUR DISABILITY AN ASSET
Turn your disability into an asset to the employer. That may sound counter-intuitive but if you are thinking of going back into the workforce, you might as well highlight your strengths and you might as well believe in yourself. The fact is that all things have
both a negative and positive aspect. Your disability, depending on the context, could be something that will inspire the consumers and clients of the organization you are applying to for a job. The fact that you may be experiencing certain challenges does not mean there are not other skills and aptitudes and strengths that you possess. Do not let the prospective employer focus on your disability in a negative way. Turn it into a positive. The way you do this is you should not focus on your disability in a negative way. Your disability is not the reason you are trying to get back into the workforce. You are trying to get back despite your disability, because you believe that your disability is not a hindrance, but rather, could be an asset. It is your skills and your aptitudes and your desire to be back in the game that make you want to participate in the Ticket to Work program; and this desire, as well as your positive attributes (including how your disability is an asset to the employer) is what you should focus on. You should only reference your disability as an asset to the job you are
5. APPLY FOR JOBS EVEN IF YOUR DISABILITY COULD POSE A CHALLENGE
In some cases, the fact that you have a disability should not be a barrier to entry into certain types of jobs usually reserved for “able” people. For example, you may be a neurosurgeon who now has a physical disability. A physical disability does not prevent
you from thinking in the same manner as you did before you became physically challenged. People with disabilities are not a monolithic group who are all suddenly unemployable in every conceivable way, or confined to working from home, or doing
jobs that are clearly below their abilities, just by virtue of them being labeled “disabled.” What’s a disability got to do with it? Nothing, if you are otherwise qualified for the job. Therefore, you should apply for jobs that you qualify for with or without
In conclusion, the fact that you are a Ticket to Work participant proves that you are an ambitious person who wants to be a part of the game. This may be “ambitious,” or it may be just the way things are. Either way, kudos to you. Get back out there and make your mark. We at Workplace Learning Solutions (an approved Ticket to Work provider in Atlanta Georgia) are rooting for you and we are here to help you if you need us.
Good luck with your job search!