5 proven ways to find a job with an injury, illness or disability

Searching for a fulfilling job in a supportive work environment can be difficult.

If you’re living with an injury, illness or disability, you may have symptoms and additional challenges to navigate when seeking employment.

Below, the job-search experts at APM share their best tips for finding a job that’s the right fit for you.

1. Search online like a pro

To get the most out of an online job board, you need to know how to stand out from the crowd. With so many people sending in their resumes, it’s time to start getting creative in your search and applications:

Pro tip 1: Search by keywords or skills, not just job titles.

If you just search for ‘sales assistant’ positions, you might be missing other job opportunities that you haven’t thought of. For example, you could try searching for 'fashion', 'customer service', 'visual merchandising', 'men’s fashion', or 'styling'.

Searching for skills or keywords instead and you could find a broader range of opportunities that suit your unique skills, strengths and interests.

Pro tip 2: Find more opportunities by using a range of job boards, not just the big ones.

Not all jobs are posted on well-known job boards. By searching on other job boards, you may see some of the same roles advertised, however you will find lots of new ones too.

You can further broaden your search by using smaller, niche-specific job boards. Examples include ArtsHub for creative industries and HeadHunter for the beauty and hairdressing industry.

Find other niche job boards by looking on industry body websites.

Pro tip 3: Set up a custom job search alert to get notified if a suitable job gets posted.

Job alerts can make the job search smoother and help you get your resume in front of an employer as soon as possible.

Most job boards have a job alert feature, usually sent via email. Check out these instructions on how to set one up on Jobsearch.

2. Focus on companies rather than job vacancies

Often the best job opportunities aren’t advertised.

These jobs usually have less competition since they’re harder to find.

Shifting your focus to the companies you want to work for could help you unlock opportunities beyond the job boards.

Cold calling is when you reach out to a company you’re interested in working for, even if they don’t have a job vacancy listed on their website.

Here are some great tactics for cold calling:

  • Prepare a quick and engaging opening to explain why you’re calling.
  • Be polite and personable. Show that you care.
  • Ask if you can meet up in person to discuss opportunities.
  • Don’t forget to say thank you.
  • Be prepared to try, try, try again.

You can also turn up to a company office in person instead of calling. Sometimes this is more effective.

Think about how you can stand out from the crowd. For example, have a few pre-prepared questions to ask your favourite companies to make an impression.

Pro tip: Research any company you are considering working for to see if they have a good reputation for supporting people with injury, illness or disability.

Many people with disability require adjustments to a workplace that are not complex. When you apply for jobs, it’s good to be honest and clear about what you might need to succeed in a role.

Many employers don’t realise they can access funds to cover the costs of special equipment, software or tools to help you perform your best in the job.

3. Plan, prepare and practice

Planning, preparing and practicing can help you know what to do, even when the job search feels overwhelming.

Planning is all about knowing what you want and creating clear, actionable steps that you can take to achieve your goals.

Create goals that you can control such as:

  • Applying for ‘x’ amount of jobs a day
  • Reaching out to ‘x’ number of people in your network a week
  • Cold Calling ‘x’ number of businesses each week
  • Gaining new skills or qualifications that will make you more employable

Prepare your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) by putting your best foot forward and catching the attention of employers.

Pro tip 1: Use keywords in your resume that match the jobs you’re looking for. A lot of employers put resumes through a database which filters them based on keywords.

Interviews can be stressful but when you’ve prepared, you can go to the interview feeling confident and in control.

Anticipate potential concerns your employer might have about your suitability for the role and prepare a response. You can be honest and clear about what you might require.

Pro tip 2: When you explain the value you can bring to the company, back it up with evidence of how you’ve helped bring value in the past.

For example, you could say something like, 'In my last job as an admin assistant, I helped implement a new organisation process that made it much easier for the company to find the documents they needed.'

4. Try networking

Think about it from the employer’s perspective.

Would you rather hire someone you know and trust or take a chance on one of the many people who sent their resume in?

Most employers would prefer to hire someone who they know or someone who was referred to them.

Networking means finding work by talking to people you know such as family, friends, former colleagues and ex-bosses.

You can network by:

  • Asking your connections if they know any job vacancies
  • Building relationships with people who are in the industry you want to work in
  • Creating connections on social media platforms such as LinkedIn

Pro tip: When you’re networking, make it about the other person.

Have a few work and non-work related questions to ask. Talking about non-work related things first can be a way to build rapport, then you can frame your skills and knowledge as something that can benefit them.

Reaching out to people about job opportunities can feel intimidating. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed or anxious about networking, it can sometimes help to attend an event with a friend.

5. Ask for help when you need it

When you have an injury, illness or disability, it can feel difficult to find a job that is fulfilling.

But it is not impossible. There are jobs out there for you.

APM is dedicated to helping people with an injury, illness or disability to find a job that works for them.

We are Australia’s largest provider of the Disability Employment Services (DES) program, a government initiative that helps people with injury, illness or disability find meaningful work and manage the workplace with confidence.

We can help you with:

  • Discovering your strengths and interests
  • Writing your resume and job applications
  • Searching for suitable jobs
  • Identifying potential employers
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Managing any health issues or barriers to work

We have helped over 45,000 people with injury, illness or disability find work and we’re ready to get to work helping you find a job too.

Find out if you’re eligible for the Disability Employment Services program by registering with APM today.

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