A Deaf Person’s Guide to Applying for Jobs

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As a young deaf adult, I’ve had my share of experiences of applying for jobs. When it comes to having a disability, such as deafness, it shouldn’t stand in your way. If employers can see past your deafness, it proves they can see potential in you, and that your deafness shouldn’t in any way impact on your career goals.

Create a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A great starting point when applying for jobs is to create a CV. This is a document which lists all your qualifications, work experience, employment history, skills, qualities and references. There are many examples online to help.

A CV can sometimes be used to apply for jobs, otherwise when completing job applications, you can use your CV to refer back to.

Qualifications

No matter how many years since you’ve been in education, Employers will wish to see what qualifications you have. These can be from GCSE’s, A Levels, Degrees or equivalent. If you’ve done external qualifications i.e. First Aid, Languages, or courses you’ve been on which provide a qualification at the end, are all great to include.

Work Experience/Employment History

When writing your CV, think back to any work experience you have done, whether paid or voluntary. Include dates if you can. Think about what skills you’ve gained from each one and how you can use these skills in other jobs. Voluntary experience is always brilliant, as it shows that you have dedicated your time and/or helped a cause.

Skills and Qualities

This is the bit about YOU! What skills do you have to offer? Are they Team-Building, Leadership, Organisational, Communication, Problem-Solving?

Qualities are describing yourself in a good way. Are you hard-working, friendly, dedicated, honest?

Have a look online for examples to help.

References

Always ensure you have at least one to three references on your CV. These can be previous employers, teachers/university lecturers, anyone professional who knows you and can write up a reference. You can also add a personal referee if you haven’t worked before, someone who can vouch for you to say you are trustworthy.

This helps future employers to find out more about you and whether you are suitable for the job. Don’t forget to ask their permission before adding in their contact details.

Should I disclose my Deafness on job applications?

There’s always different arguments whether or not to mention your deafness on job applications or on your CV. At the end of the day, it’s your decision if you wish to disclose it or not.

‘I’m proud of my deafness’

  • If you feel it’s a part of you and you wish to tell the employer about it, then that’s understandable. In this case, use it as a selling point and focus on all the things you’ve achieved and can do, rather than the things you can’t do.
  • If not, the employer might be worried about how they can overcome these barriers and may see it as a reason not to process applications further.

‘It’s relevant to the job’

  • If it’s working within the Deaf Community, or has some link to the job, then it’s up to you if you wish to tell them about your Deafness. It might work in your favour. The employer might see it as you have the experience of deafness because you’ve lived with it and may feel you can do the role better.

‘I don’t want them to know I’m D/deaf’

  • That’s completely understandable. There is no rule to say that you have to disclose your deafness. Some argue that if you don’t mention it, the employer will view your application as they would any others.
  • It might help because they can see what you’ve achieved and what your skills are, and if you wish to tell them at the interview stage, it would hopefully prove to them that although you are D/deaf, you have achieved so many things.

How do I deal with Telephone Interviews if I can’t use the phone?

I’ve had this situation occur many times! I don’t list my phone number on my CV, only an email address. Although, when filling in job applications, sometimes it’s compulsory to put a number in, so here’s what to do!

  • Don’t put a number on if you can, provide alternative contact methods i.e. email, Skype, Text Relay.
  • If they request it, list a landline or a relative’s number (check with the relative beforehand that it’s okay to use!), or your mobile number.

If they call, you can get someone else to answer and say ‘(Name) isn’t here at the moment, if you could drop them an email they’ll get back to you’ – this is a great way of changing contact methods without telling them about your deafness!

  • If you/someone else mention your deafness as a reason why they can’t call, unfortunately the employer might come up with an excuse and call off the interview.

Interview stage

If you’ve got to the interview stage, congratulations! Now’s the chance to SELL YOURSELF! Remember, be yourself, smile and keep calm.

You can take a copy of your CV with you to refer back to if your mind goes blank! Try and think of different parts of the job and what you’ve done in the past that will help you do the job.

For example, ‘I have Leadership skills because I used to be a Guide Leader, so I will lead the team in this job to achieve the best they can’.

Research!

It helps to research the company beforehand, this shows them that you have taken time to look at what they do and will help when they explain things about the company.

Do your homework with the role, look through the job description and see how you can fit your skills and experience to the job. Try to help the employer see why you really want the job and have given it a lot of thought.

Think of some relevant questions to ask them, this makes the interview a two-way conversation! These could be; ‘How many employees do you have?’, ‘how long have you worked here?’, ‘could you tell me more about the day-to-day roles of this job?’

Support

If you require support in your interview, such as an interpreter, contact them beforehand and they should provide it. Alternatively, you could bring your own.

Best of luck! Remember, if the first one isn’t successful don’t give up. Keep trying! Something will come your way soon…

1 COMMENT

  1. Would be great if this article has some deaf-positive images, e.g. the panel interview with a sign language interpreter featured!

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