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

By Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF, Disability Employment Expert

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, "How to Find a Job."

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.

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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.