Starting a new career or returning to your old one* after an extended absence can be a terrifying proposition for anybody. Trying to find your way back into the “groove” of the hustle and bustle of the working world takes time and effort. When you’re returning to work after an amputation, these fears are multiplied. You may have the added stress of introducing the world to the “new” you.
The first step for many amputees returning to the job market is the interview. The American’s with Disabilities Act states that you do not have to reveal any disability during your interview, and it is illegal for the interviewer to ask about disabilities. I didn’t know this when I went for my first interview. I walked in and immediately told the interviewing panel that I was an amputee, but it wouldn’t affect my ability to function.
Photo Courtesy of Haley Sedlacek & Kelsie Bailes
So… here are some basic tips for a job interview:
- Dress up for the job. First impression is always a winner!
- Be calm and poised. Speak slow and clear.
- Remember, you don’t have to reveal your disability.
- Know what questions can and cannot be asked during the interview. Check out the Equal Employment Opportunity Center for resources on job interviews as a person with a disability.
- Once you have a job offer, it is acceptable to ask about how you can perform the job with or without accommodations.
- You can ask for reasonable accommodation, but depending on the size of the company or the stress it places on the company, accommodations can be denied.
- Most importantly, be confident.
Photo Courtesy of motivation.media.com
I look at it this way. I’m a part of an elite group – one that makes up approximately 0.63% of the population of the United States. We are survivors. We have survived life missing a limb – no matter if it’s congenital, a medical condition, or a trauma. So, when you walk into your interview, you are already far ahead of the rest of the applicants. You have proven that you can endure more than 99.37% of the rest of the United States. You can’t put that on a resume, but you can walk in with the knowledge that you’re stronger than the rest. Keep your head held high and your shoulders back. Answer every question with authority, and turn negatives into positives. Finally, start your interview with introductions and small talk, and leave the same way you walked in. Follow this advice, regardless if you think you aced the interview or bombed it.
*See FMLA guidelines for handling situations where you are returning to work following an absence from work after an injury.