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To Tell or Not to Tell

A great deal has been written as to whether or not you should tell a potential employer that you have a disability. Of course if you have a visible disability, it is going to be obvious. The best course of action is for you to bring the subject up first and discuss it in an open and relaxed manner. This will make your interviewer feel more comfortable with you. Keep in mind that people dont usually hire people unless they feel comfortable with them.

If you have an invisible disability you have more choices. Whether or not you tell should be determined by whether or not you think it will help or hurt your chances of getting hired.

Survey results indicate employers are most prejudiced against hiring people with a history of mental illness or substance addiction. If you have had either, strongly consider keeping that information to yourself. The law gives you the right to choose not to tell.

There are lots of socially acceptable reasons why people have gaps in their employment history. If you can make a case for explaining gaps as due to child care or elder care responsibilities, travel outside the country, volunteer work commitments etc., do so.

If you think you are better off telling a potential employer, either because you have a visible disability or because you are going to need some accommodation and the employer needs to know that, you may want to read more tips on how to handle that kind of conversation. Here is a list of books that you may find useful. One or more should be available at your local library.

Successful Job Search Strategies For the Disabled: Understanding the ADA by Jeffrey Allen (1994)

More Than a Job: Securing Satisfying Careers for People with Disabilities by Paul Wehman (1998)

Career Success for People With Physical Disabilities by Sharon Kissane (1996)

Job-Hunting Tips for the So-called Handicapped or People Who Have Disabilities: A Supplement to What Color is Your Parachute? by John Bolles (1992)


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