The business world is a lucrative field with a ton of opportunities. However, those opportunities can feel inaccessible for people with disabilities. After all, the business world was built with able bodied, neurotypical people in mind. Anyone who doesn’t fit into that mold can struggle to break into the industry.
However, that doesn’t mean people with disabilities can’t make it in business - in fact, if you can find the right fit, you can make waves and make the industry more accessible as you go. This guide offers some tips on how you can get started.
Earn Your Degree
A business degree should be anyone’s first step on the business career journey. After all, you get a lot out of earning a degree. There’s obviously the course material itself, but that’s truly just the beginning. As Business Administration Information points out, some of the most important parts of your business education will actually come down to the connections you make along the way. You’ll meet potential mentors, future employees, and business allies you’ll keep with you through the rest of your career.
However, not all colleges are equally accessible. Take some time to investigate the most accessible colleges in the country before you start applying. These days, you aren’t limited to in-person studies, though. You should also consider online school. This is a great fit if you’d like to learn from home, where you know you’ll have the accommodations you need to get around comfortably. It can also allow you to set your own schedule - many pursuits don’t need to be taken at a specific, consistent time, meaning you can dive in whenever it works best for you.
Build Your Network
School will be your first chance to build your network, but networking is a continuous and consistent part of a successful business career. Business people thrive on connections - you never know who will be that magic person you need down the line. Work on meeting as many people as you can, and stay in touch with them as your career grows.
In addition to professional groups in your field, look into disability community networking groups as well. This is a great way to stay tuned in to accessible companies, meaning you’ll have an easier time finding the right fit when job hunting. Moreover, you’ll be able to clue other people with disabilities into opportunities you know of, as well. Success is contagious in communities, and you have the power to lift others up alongside you.
Job Hunting and Interviewing
When you’re searching for a job, start by letting your network know you’re on the hunt. They might know of an opportunity that would be a good fit for you. A significant percent of successful hires happen through networking connections, so this is always the best place to start.
Beyond letting your network know, you can use online job boards to discover which companies are looking for someone with your skills. Don’t apply right away to every job that seems like a good fit, however. Instead, take some time to research the company. This gives you a chance to get a sense for the company’s culture, their salary range, and what you might be able to expect as far as inclusivity is concerned.
When you’ve found a great company and you’re ready to apply, give every job application dedicated time and effort. Sending out a default resume and bland cover letter to a ton of job postings isn’t likely to land you with much in the way of interviews. Instead, tailor your application materials to show that you understand the company and you can imagine your place within it. You can use templates to get started, but tweak each application to reflect the specific position you’re seeking.
Getting started in business can be intimidating, especially when you have a disability. However, you can find the company and opportunity that’s right for you. Focus on networking, honing your skills, and being your own advocate to give yourself the best shot at success!
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About the Author
Linda Chase created Able Hire to help people with disabilities build rewarding, successful careers. She hopes Able Hire will be a resource for people with disabilities seeking jobs and for hiring managers seeking a better understanding of what people with disabilities have to offer.
For more information go to: www.ablehire.org
Danny Partida is the creator and host of