How to get a job with an intellectual disability

Young woman with an intellectual disability in the workplace

Real tips on how to get a job with an intellectual disability

Trying to find a job when you have an intellectual disability can be frustrating.

You may have felt overlooked by employers and not valued for your skills and strengths.

It’s hard to get a job if you’re not given a fair go.

But if you want to work, we believe there is a job for you.

At APM, we help people with intellectual disabilities find work that suits their unique strengths and challenges.

In this guide you will find tips about:

Can I get a job if I have an intellectual disability?

Yes you can. If you want to work, there are jobs out there for you.

There are employers and workplaces where you can use your skills and feel supported.

At APM we help thousands of people with intellectual disabilities find work, every year.

We help people with:

  • Developmental delay disorders
  • Down syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Other genetic disorders

Did you know working can be good for you?

Most of us know that working means you earn money and can pay for more things. Working also has many benefits that can help you feel good inside.

Some other benefits of working are:

  • You get out more
  • You meet other people
  • You have something important to do
  • You are part of something
  • You learn new skills
  • You feel more confident
  • You become more independent

APM helps thousands of people with an intellectual disability find a job each year

Job ideas for people with an intellectual disability

Like you, at APM we know that everyone is different. You have interests, abilities and challenges that are personal to you.

It’s important to find a job that is suitable for you.

At APM, we help people find a job by focusing on what they do best.

We match people to suitable job roles where they can:

  • Use their strengths and skills
  • Feel supported
  • Seek help when they need it

If you are looking for a job, you should take time to think about what your interests, strengths and challenges are. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I good at?
  • What skills do I have? What things do I know how to do?
  • What do I like doing? What am I interested in?
  • What work environment do I need?
  • What are my challenges?

After you have thought about your interests, strengths and challenges, you can brainstorm what jobs might be suitable for you.

Here are some great job ideas:

  • Jobs with routine. If you work best with routine, you might work well in a factory as a process worker. Process workers have routine tasks such as preparing equipment, packing products and processing orders.
  • Artistic jobs. If you’re artistic and creative, you might like to work as a designer, photographer or illustrator. These jobs require you to be creative, organised and good at communicating with others.
  • Working with animals. If you like animals, you might be a great animal carer. You could get a job walking dogs, working at a kennel or assisting a vet.
  • Do you have an eye for details? If you notice small details, you might be good at cleaning. Cleaners can work in lots of settings such as offices, schools and restaurants.
  • Jobs outside. If you like being outdoors, you might like being a gardener or a nursery worker. Your tasks might include looking after plants, maintaining gardens and mowing lawns.
  • Are you organised? If you’re organised, you could be a good administration assistant. Administration assistants do tasks such as printing, photocopying and filing.
Maddy has an intellectual disability and found a job she loves

How to get started finding a job if you’re living with an intellectual disability

There are many ways to find a job. If you are having trouble finding a job, try to use a range of job searching techniques.

You can find a job by:

Looking for a job can be hard and it often takes a long time. It can feel discouraging when you can’t find a suitable job.

Sometimes all you need is a bit of help.

If you have an intellectual disability, you may be eligible for Disability Employment Services with APM.

When you sign up for Disability Employment Services you will meet an employment consultant who will get to know you and help you every step of the way.

Your employment consultant will ask you about:

  • Who you are
  • Your disability
  • What you want in a job

Your employment consultant can help you with:

  • Career advice
  • Writing your resume
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Training to get more skills
  • Finding job opportunities that suit you
  • Support to stay in your job

Find out more about DES or register today to see if you are eligible.

Maddy has an intellectual disability and came to APM for help in finding a job

Writing your resume and CV

When someone applies for a job, they need to write a resume or curriculum vitae (CV).

The purpose of your resume or CV is to show the employer why you will be good at the job.

Your resume or CV should include information about:

  • Your skills
  • Your qualifications
  • Your experience
  • Your strengths
  • Your good qualities

For more information, check out our guide on how to write a good resume and cover letter

How to do well in a job interview

In an interview, an employee will ask you questions to see if they want to hire you.

In an interview, you should:

  • Explain how you can add value to the company
  • Describe your strengths and good qualities
  • Acknowledge your challenges

Interviews often make people feel nervous. If you are feeling worried about an interview, here are some tips:

  • Practise answering common interview questions such as ‘Why do you want to work here?’ and ‘What can you bring to the role?’
  • Research the company and think of some questions to ask the employer. This shows the employer that you care about the job.
  • Focus on now and try not to worry about what could go wrong. Take one step at a time.
  • Practise confidence, even if you don’t feel it. Picture yourself being calm and collected in the interview.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep before the interview.
  • Once the interview is over, treat yourself to something nice. However the interview went, you made it through. That’s worth celebrating.

Managing in the workplace with an intellectual disability

Sometimes work is challenging when you have an intellectual disability.

If you are finding work hard, help is available. APM helps people with intellectual disabilities manage in the workplace and stay in their job.

When you register for Disability Employment Services with APM, you can get support to keep working.

Support in the workplace can:

  • Make things easier for you
  • Help you keep your job
  • Help you learn new skills more quickly
  • Help you feel more confident

APM can help you talk with your employer about what you need. Your employer might make workplace adjustments to support you.

Workplace adjustments could be:

  • Giving you work activities with repetitive steps
  • Finding a work buddy who can support you
  • Providing special equipment to help you do your job
  • Using pictures and prompts to help you remember your tasks
  • Giving you verbal instructions rather than written instructions

Everyone is different. At APM, we help you get workplace adjustments that suit your unique needs and capabilities.

See how Maddy overcame the challenges of living with a disability to find a job she loves with the help of APM...

Read a full transcript of this video.

Need a little help? We are here for you.

If you want to work but are having trouble finding a job, you are not alone.

At APM, we help thousands of people like you find a job that suits them.

APM can help you with:

  • Finding job opportunities that suit you
  • Brainstorming job types that suit you
  • Writing your resume
  • Preparing for job interviews
  • Training for skills that make you more employable
  • Support so you can keep working with confidence

We believe there is a job out there for everyone and we want to see you managing the world of work with confidence.

Ready to find work? Let’s get started!

Register for DES today to see if you’re eligible.