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Finding the right job fit is challenging for everyone, and having a cognitive disability can make the process even more difficult. Thankfully, laws and government programs help ensure that job opportunities exist for people with a variety of different abilities and skills. Many of the job search steps, such as resume writing, applying and interviewing, are the same for all job-seekers. If you or a loved one has a cognitive disability, support services make these steps easier, placing work opportunities well within reach.
Help is Close By
If you're not sure where to begin with your job hunt, contacting an agency with programs dedicated to people with disabilities can help. American Job Centers are located across the country, and employ Disability Program Navigators who can help you locate additional funding and services. Vocational Rehabilitation Organizations are another employment resource available for people with cognitive disabilities. In addition to resume drafting, these centers can help with career goal selection and get you the training you need. Independent Living Centers provide information about disabilities at work and offer training opportunities. If you're receiving Social Security due to your disability, the federal Ticket to Work program is designed to help you find work to achieve financial independence.
Assess Your Strengths and Needs
When composing your resume and preparing for job interviews, knowing your own skills and support needs is important. While one of the agencies mentioned above may help you with this task, you can also analyze yourself before attending a meeting with an employment counselor or adviser. Maybe you love talking with people, but you have trouble with your memory. Next, think about how your employer might be able to accommodate your specific disability. The Job Accommodation Network provides a list of reasonable adjustments employers can be expected to make to your work environment to help with cognitive impairment, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Search in the Right Places
Once you have a resume and cover letter prepared, you can apply to generic newspaper and online job postings if you have the skills needed. There are also job boards with opportunities specifically geared toward people with disabilities. The positions advertised on these sites may be more easily adjusted, based on your need for accommodations. For example, part-time or flexible scheduling may be available in these jobs if you get tired easily. The Employer Assistance and Resource Network offers a list of these specialized job boards, which include Ability Jobs, disABLED Person, Getting Hired, Hire Disability Solutions, One More Way, USA Jobs, IMDiversity and LandAJob.
Choose the Government Route
If you want to work for the federal government, you may be eligible to apply for jobs under Schedule A. Applying under Schedule A means that your application is considered in a separate category, apart from applications from people without disabilities. To be eligible, you need a letter from a health professional verifying your disability, as well as confirmation that you are ready to take on the responsibilities of the job you want. The next step involves speaking to the Disability Program Manager or Selective Placement Coordinator at the agency where you want to apply.
A professional writer since 2006, Colleen Reinhart has held positions in technical writing and marketing. She also writes lifestyle, health and business articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Business degree from the University of Waterloo, and a Master's degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Toronto.
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