Should You List your Disability on your Cover Letter or Resume?

Should You List your Disability on your Cover Letter or Resume?

by Roselle Pendergast, Head Editor, INALJ Minnesota

Roselle.Pendergast

As a person who does not feel disabled despite being deafened in one ear and wearing a cochlear implant in the other, I’ve never listed my disability in the cover letter or on my resume. Regardless, I worry about ‘deceiving’ my interviewer by not saying something or making it clear that my disability does not inhibit me from performing my job to the fullest.  That got me thinking about the pros and cons for people with disabilities and resumes.

Monster Resume Expert, Kim Isaacs made a great point in her article, Should You Disclose a Disability on Your Resume?, “[the] first thing job seekers need to ask themselves is, ‘Can I do the job?’ […] If the answer is yes and the disability doesn’t affect job performance then don’t mention it.”

She listed three top reasons why you should avoid disclosing a disability:

  • Fewer interview invitations: Not securing an interview is one of the major potential pitfalls of revealing a disability on a resume.

  • A reason to eliminate you: Your resume is a marketing document. Show that you have the requirements the employer is seeking, and eliminate anything that might move you to the ‘reject pile’, whether that’s typos, coffee stains on your document or having a disability.

  • The law is on your side: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you don’t have to say anything.

Isaacs does go on to say “[people] with visible disabilities (e.g., noticeable impairments to speech, hearing, sight or mobility) might want to disclose the disability so there are no surprises at the interview”.  Another person disagreed entirely and strongly urges to let your resume do the talking in order to get you in the door. “[If] the disability is visible, put their minds at ease early on in the process, assuring employers that you have the skills to do the job”.

My personal advice is to use your best judgment.  How much does your ability affect your everyday life?  What accommodations would you require in order to perform your job to the fullest?  Having answers to those questions will make your decision much easier.  Like I said, I leave out my disability on my cover letters and resume BUT I do make it clear when communicating with my potential employer via email that I have a difficulty understanding people on the phone.  I often offer other solutions for different modes of communication if not face-to-face.

Your disability doesn’t need to be on the cover letter or resume but when communications open up between you and your potential employer while wrangling a date for an interview, make a casual mention about your disability so your interviewer is not caught by a surprise.  I think of it as polite courtesy.

 

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 20.5 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 

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