Monday, September 23, 2013

‘Invisible’ disabilities pose job hunting challenges

People with “invisible” disabilities face a quandary when seeking work: to conceal or reveal the disability, each with potential consequences for finding and keeping employment? For the New York Times, Katherine Bouton provides an excellent, in-depth, report.

Among examples highlighted: A young woman with hearing loss, on the verge of being offered a job, was invited by top executives to continue the discussion over drinks. “The bar was noisy and she couldn’t keep up with the conversation. She didn’t get the job.”

And a person on the autism spectrum was eliminated from consideration by a “social suitability” pre-screening test that featured multiple choice questions like “Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out how I am supposed to behave around others.”

(My impression is that these questions seem intentionally designed to flag characteristics associated with autism: uneasiness with crowds, dislike of social chatter and difficulty interpreting other people’s emotions.)

Bouton highlights a tough dilemma. People with hidden disabilities face risks at every stage of the hiring process: from application to interview to starting on the job. These pitfalls and risks compound the struggle to compete successfully for employment in an already tight job market.

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