Job hunting can be a difficult and scary prospect at the best of times: the stress of seeking out potential opportunities, spending hours polishing your CV and trying desperately to be the best 'you' at interview (as opposed to the shaking and nervous wreck you were seconds before walking through the door).
Your job hunt may come with additional challenges when you're applying as someone who is Deaf. Concerns about communication issues or fears of discrimination can add an additional layer of nerves to an already uncomfortable situation and may even put you off seeking new opportunities.
The good news, however, is there is a huge range of services and support which can be accessed (as well as a few top tips on how to present the best version of you) to help you to succeed in your dream role.
1. Check out the Access to Work Scheme
This should be your first port of call when job hunting. Access to Work is a special scheme designed to help those with health conditions or other disabilities – including deafness – to have equal opportunities in the workplace through practical support and advice. In addition, the scheme can provide grants and funds to allow your employer to implement long-term support in the workplace. This can include specialist equipment such as phones and hearing loop systems, live captioning or BSL interpreters, extra training for staff and colleagues, and extra support staff for notes or communications.
The best part? You can access these benefits whilst applying and interviewing for jobs to ensure that you have the best possible chance of success, and to allow you to focus on presenting yourself as an ideal candidate without worrying about communication issues holding you back. Recent changes have also made more funding available and led to an increase in approval rates.
2. Look in the right places
There are a number of websites which are specifically designed to support and promote deaf employment opportunities. These resources include advice and links to jobseekers, as well as a number of job sites which allow you to tailor searches to your exact requirements, including allowing you to rank jobs according to their disability policies and support systems. Below are some of the top sites which offer jobs for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:
3. Communicate with employers
As obvious as it may seem, open and effective communication with potential employers is crucial to allow them to make reasonable adjustments for an interview. This is especially true if they favour a telephone interview – often a pre-requisite to securing a face-to-face interview later on. If a telephone interview is arranged, take the opportunity to inform the interviewer of your deafness if they are not already aware. They can then arrange to communicate through Skype or another video call platform along with a live captioner or interpreter, or come up with another way to interview you.
Whatever is decided, you have the right to an equal chance of getting the job, so make sure that whatever support you require is set up well in advance. Many of the resources detailed above give excellent advice on this matter.
4. Take care with your CV
This is a much debated issue: whether or not to include that you are Deaf or Hard of Hearing on your CV or resumé. There are good arguments for each side of the debate. Including this information may allow you to access support more quickly and easily, as the employer will be aware and informed ahead of time. Sadly, however, discrimination does exist – both positive and negative – and many candidates feel they would like to be considered and selected based on their suitability for the job and so choose not mention this beforehand.
There is no right or wrong decision here, but always remember that whatever you decide to do, you are entitled to a fair chance at the interview stage. Whether you include this information or not, don’t forget to take the time to make your CV really shine and tailor it carefully to the job you are looking for – employers can spot a mass-produced effort a mile off!
5. Don’t hold back in asking for support
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that all of the support you need to achieve your dream role is out there in spades, but the people who hold and release it are not psychic. Don’t let a misplaced sense of embarrassment or awkwardness prevent you accessing these resources which can be used to support you in your job search. Good employers want to find the best talent possible for their organisation, no matter their background, and will often be more than willing to work with you and make necessary adjustments.
Whether you need a live captioner, specialist equipment, or simply additional understanding and training for your colleagues and managers, everyone has an equal opportunity to access the jobs which best suit their skill set. Don’t let the barriers you face prevent you getting the job you want. Instead, grab the opportunities available, and see where your career takes you!
Want more job application advice? Get in touch!