A couple of nights ago, I had a phone consultation with a career specialist and I brought up equal opportunity. She said that equal opportunity doesn’t mean that my disability will help me land a job. It means that potential employers won’t discriminate against me on the basis of my disability. She noted that she’d previously worked with someone who demanded an interview for a job based on the fact that he was of an ethnic minority, and that this rudeness turned people right off (understandably). She said that, depending on how I frame my disability and choose to speak about it, it can work for me or against me.

I recently managed to secure some freelance manuscript development work without making use of equal opportunity. I sold myself on my skills, abilities, and desire to work in manuscript development rather than on the basis of being impaired. I was given work because of my experience and intelligence rather than my impairment; I didn’t even mention my disability to my employer because it never factored into my work or ability to work. The specialist with whom I spoke a few days ago said that disabilities and illnesses only really matter to employers – or are worth mentioning – if the person will need time off or extra sick days to receive therapy or medical treatment. This made perfect sense to me, particularly since a previous employer asked me about pain management and ‘off days’, to which I responded that I manage my pain and my disability with exercise and massage therapy.

If mentioning my disability cannot help me secure a job, I do not want to mention it at all and I do not want to ‘use’ it to get work. I will no longer mention it in work applications or interviews (unless it comes up in conversation). I have a job interview a couple of weeks from now (which I secured without mentioning my impairment). I will walk in there wearing my new boots, a pretty skirt, a gorgeous top, and my new ‘look at me’ statement bag. I’ll present better than I have in the past, and that will help me get the job. When I get a job I really want, I will feel like I really deserve it and have earned it rather than feeling that I just got in because the company felt as though they had to hire a disabled person.

My family came to visit me this week. Just before he left, my father said to me, ‘You set this town on fire.’ I certainly will.     


About Norah

writer. aspiring editor.
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6 Responses to #thegirlonfire

  1. o3broken says:

    Both as a person with a disability and working in the staffin industry, I can tell you that this is the best approach. No need to ever mention your disability unless it will directly affect the position you’re seeking (most often, it won’t). The only thing you need is the skills you have and a confidence to match it and you will be fine. I wish you the best of luck on the job hunt!

  2. neverending2146 says:

    I just found your blog. I also have cerebral palsy and have had a successful career of 20-plus years in the nonprofit sector in the U.S. I work in fundraising and my greatest talent is in grant writing. I’ve found it best not to mention my disability on applications or on my resume. The hiring company always finds out about it when I arrive for the job interview. 🙂 Having confidence in my writing and other abilities has taken me a long way. Having a sense of humor has been essential. Working with people who believe in me has been important, and it’s been equally important that I believe in them and what they want to accomplish. Wishing you all the best! You’ll do it.

    • Norah says:

      thank you! i agree. having a sense of humour is so important. i used to take everything so seriously, but i’ve realized that it helps to have a sense of humour about things. if you can find the funny side of a difficult situation, it can make it easier to deal with. i’m glad you have confidence in yourself and your work, as you should. thank you, too, for reading so many entries. i saw the stats this morning and felt really happy and motivated to write more. thank you!

  3. Thank you for writing this blog and sharing your experiences. I read a lot of your past entries (as you noticed). I’m interested in learning Pilates and yoga – if I can do yoga. Like you, I’m a woman with spastic diplegia. I’m going to be 50 this year and haven’t been nearly as dedicated as you are with physical fitness. I don’t think there are many voices out there of people with CP who are engaged in a journey like yours and who are sharing it, and I appreciate what you’re doing. I’ve been living my life “as usual”, home life, work, etc., but want to make a stronger commitment to putting in the time needed to increase my strength and flexibility. You’re doing a good thing here, not only for yourself but for others like me and for the general public. Thanks again!

    • Norah says:

      wow. thank you so, so much. this is very encouraging to read and i would definitely encourage you to try pilates, yoga, or anything else that not only helps with your body, but makes you feel better. thank you so much.

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