A common questions job seekers have is how to mention disability on resume. If you are one of the many millions of people fortunate enough to live in the United States in the Twenty-First Century, there’s a reasonably good chance that you have some level of disability. Statistically, roughly one in six Americans has a disability of some sort. And unfortunately, many of those Americans struggle to locate gainful employment. If you’re even partially disabled and struggling with your job search, your resume may be the cause. More specifically, the problem may be how you’re managing information about your disability. If you want to mention disability in your resume, read this first!
We’ll also show you how to work around employment gaps on your resume due to a disability.
The important question to ask is this: do you even need to mention disability in Your resume?
Most experts suggest that the answer is almost always a resounding no. Why? It’s simple: if you are capable of doing the job, and your disability won’t require special accommodation, then your impairment is irrelevant.
Why mention something that doesn’t have any bearing on whether you can do the job?
In short, there are few reasons why the inclusion of this information could ever be necessary. Of course, if you are unqualified due to your disability, then you would be lying if you ignored your impairment. Then again, you really shouldn’t be applying for that type of job anyway, right? And while some minor disabilities like mild hearing or vision problems might seem worth mentioning, your best bet is to bring them up at an interview.
On the other hand, there are a whole host of reasons why you shouldn’t mention disability in your resume. They include:
Yes, it is sad to think that discrimination still exists at this point in history – but it does. Your disability may have no bearing on your qualifications, but many employers won’t see that truth. Many will see it as a potential source for problems. Some will wonder whether you need special accommodations. Others will wonder whether you are as qualified as you say you are. Even minor accommodations like the need for insulin might seem too unwieldly for a potential employer.
Besides, you have already established that you’re qualified, right? Your list of accomplishments and your potential value have already been effectively documented. You’ve done everything that you can to ensure that your resume sells you as the best candidate for the job. All that you need now is an interview, and the job is yours!
Well, the last thing you want to do at that point is add non-essential information that distracts from those qualifications. Remember, your resume must be tightly focused on presenting you as a potentially valuable employee. If you mention disability in your resume, you distract from that narrative.
Here’s the real kicker, thought: you are not even required to mention disability in your resume. That’s right! The Americans with Disabilities Act protects your right to not disclose that information – and employers can’t ask about disabilities either. So, why include details that are irrelevant to the job if you are not required to do so?
It’s also important to recognize that non-disclosure should be consistent. Don’t even think about disclosing disability in a cover letter either. Any employers who might deny you an interview when they see a disability in your resume would doubtless do the same if they saw that information in your cover letter.
We wrote a good post here on how to write a good cover letter.
What if you have employment gaps on your resume due to a disability?
If you have a large employment gap on your resume because of a disability (more than a year), try to fill it in with something like volunteering, continuing education, or professional development.
We wrote a good article with some examples and tips on how to deal with employment gaps on your resume.
On the other hand, should you discuss your disability during the interview? The short answer is “maybe.” The fact is that there are few instances in which even that level of disclosure is necessary. For example, you should consider disclosure if:
The important thing to do during such disclosures, however, is to acknowledge the issue and immediately focus attention on what you can do for the company. In most instances, your ability to continue to emphasize the value you bring to the table will help the employer to maintain that same focus. And that could be essential for helping you land that job!