How to Find a Job: Cerebral Palsy Career Builder for College Students

Learning how to find a job will not be easy for your about-to-graduate college student with cerebral palsy (CP).

It’s a task that calls for helpful tips from those who have learned, through their own ups and downs, to do it effectively.

So, here are 20 lessons I’ve learned during my 50 years in business about employee recruitment that may make the transition from school to work a little bit smoother for your college student.

I believe launching a career when CP is involved takes a lot of savvy and hard work. Let’s sidestep the “hard work” aspect of your son or daughter’s new venture and focus here, instead, on the “savvy” part.

Colorful drawing of an owl sitting on a book,

For me, being savvy about how to find a job when you have CP means:

  1. Realizing that being treated with dignity is a universal right of any job seeker, disabled or not.

  2. Recognizing that going into business for yourself, which requires experience, is not often a viable alternative to competing for a job once you’re ready to make the transition from school to work.

  3. Knowing the difference between disability-friendly, inclusive employers and EEOC-driven employers who simply seek to qualify for state and federal government contracts and knowing how to find a job within each type of company.

  4. Admitting employers are not responsible for “giving you a chance” as a job applicant; learning how to find a job is your responsibility.

  5. Learning the difference between prejudice and bias and how to effectively address each as a job seeker.

  6. Highlighting your ability to deal effectively with ambiguity as a personal attribute in your job marketing campaign.

  7. Selling yourself as a bridge builder who can help your prospective employer prepare for upcoming shifts in the employee landscape, where older, sometimes disabled workers become more prevalent.

  8. Turning the negative perception of dependency into an advantage as a job candidate with a disability.

    What getting-hired advice
    (based on your own experience in today’s job market)
    do you offer as a parent to your new graduate
    with unexpected challenges?
    Join PACER’s
    Facebook discussion.

  9. Positioning your personal approach to vulnerability as a standout attribute during job interviews.

  10. Using authenticity to put your prospective hiring manager at ease about your disability.

  11. Describing your volunteer experience so it’s meaningful to hiring managers.

  12. Making sure you’re in the right line when recruiters visit your college campus.

  13. Showing hiring managers you’ll bring an entrepreneurial spirit to their work teams.
  14. Moving beyond self-absorption about your disability to a mainstream orientation.

  15. Reassuring your prospective hiring manager you know how to avoid being an “easy mark” at work.

  16. Learning how to gracefully accept and decline help at work and in public.

  17. Being clear about your career ambitions upfront with prospective employers.
  18. Showing a prospective employer how your resiliency will contribute to the company’s bottom line.

  19. Putting job interviewers at ease about accommodations you may need to be effective at work.

  20. Knowing your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – and those of your prospective employer.

 So, here’s my message to the college student and soon-to-be job seeker you’re currently mentoring.

“Work smarter at showing a hiring manager at a specific employer why you’re the best candidate for an open job that feels right for you.”

What getting-hired advice
(based on your own experience in today’s job market)
do you offer as a parent to your new graduate
with unexpected challenges?
Join PACER’s
Facebook discussion.

Return from How to Find a Job to Interview Tips
Go to Cerebral Palsy Career Builders

This is Creative Commons content.  You can freely and legally use, share and repurpose it for non-commercial purposes only, provided you attach this sentence and the following attribution to it (including the two links):

Originally written and illustrated by Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF, owner of Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC, who, as a person with cerebral palsy, served for 10 years as a vice president in a Fortune 500 company during his 29-year career in corporate communication. He’s an Accredited Business Communicator, certified as a Global Career Development Facilitator and author of 14 Amazon books about disability awareness and disability employment issues.

Break Out: Finding Freedom When You Don’t Quite Fit the Mold” is a modern memoir of Jim Hasse’s 51 personal-experience stories as a person with a disability about what it means to be “too different” in a society with a penchant for conformity and tribalism.

Break Out was first published in 1996, but Jim's collection of 51 true stories are even more relevant today (in the light of our current political and cultural climate) than it was back then.

Take a look at this section of his 1996 Preface to the book:

"In a divided world and country, extremist views, quick answers and homogenized insights often get the press coverage and broadcast time. 'Maybe' and 'I don't know yet" take too much time and are too tentative. They garner little credibility in much of the media.

"Yet, on a personal level, most of us live with a larger reality. A part of our journey through life is settling for temporary "maybe" answers about who we are and who we can become. That's especially true when we need to face fundamental questions about how we can deal effectively with false assumptions about ourselves (and the presumptions others may form about us) because we don't quite fit accepted norms." 

Only two copies of this paperback are available on Amazon. Or, pick up your FREE copy (one of 192 remaining copies from the first printing) at Disability Pride Madison on July 27.

Jim writes:

“I now look at Break Out  as a treasure-trove for those who specialize in narrative therapy within the disability community.

"After 20 years of publishing Break Out, I have revisited each of these stories and published a series of eBooks that include the original stories but add my after-thoughts about what each episode really meant in my struggle with vulnerability.

"For those of us with disabilities, this  new series of 'updates' provides examples  of how to shape our life stories for greater well-being."