I have sat across from you in an interview. I look presentable, dressed in slacks and a nice top. I look like anyone else, and speak like anyone else. I answer your questions confidently, and smile through the interview. I might stumble on a response, but otherwise I did well. On paper, my resume shows a good education, strong computer skills, and a wide range of experience that shows the ability to be adaptative, quick to learn, and loyalty to my employer. It shows consistent employment since I graduated from university, with the exception of three maternity leaves, and a desire to stay and grow with one company. I have many references who can attest to my employability, and yet they are never called either.
Then it comes out, that I am Deaf, with a cochlear implant. It is something I am reluctant to put attention onto, however by law i have the right to be considered, and acknowledge these things without being penalized for it. I wonder what you’re thinking now. Perhaps wondering if using the phone is an issue, or how I might deal with my co-workers, or what kind of assistance or adaptative requirements I might have. You can’t ask me those questions, but they’re there in your head. It put that little nugget of doubt, of whether I fit in with your business. That doubt is there despite my consistent employment history illustrating my employability.
I have come in and dropped off resumes, and spoken with the supervisor or manager hiring. We would have little conversations about my availability and the position. Yet, I didn’t get a call for an interview. Something made you decide not to do so, even though I match the position perfectly. I cannot help but wonder if my cochlear implant, my hearing aid, or my speech gave you the impression I could not handle the job.
When you don’t give someone with a disability a chance, you’re losing out on an individual that can bring something different to the business. When that person has shown a consistent employment history, and matches the requirements, you have lost out even more. Those of us with disabilities, are like anyone else, we want the same opportunities. We have the same responsibilities in our lives, for our families, children, and in paying bills. Not hiring someone with a disability, because it may be too much work or too costly to accommodate is hardly justifiable. The sad part is, that you end up contributing to the unemployment rate of the disabled, and thus the increased need for social assistance.
I have been unemployed for the past year, and that is the longest stretch for me. I have sent out an average of 25 applications a week, and dropped off resumes as often as possible. I have had a grand total of five interviews in the past year. I have recently applied to a few jobs that I knew without a doubt I was qualified for. I never had a call, and I visited one of those places dropping my resume off to you, the manager. I cannot help but wonder if I am being discriminated against, based on that little meeting, the possible obviousness of my deafness. Which is against the law you know. I do have the right to go to the Human Rights Commission and get them to investigate whether I was disregarded as a candidate, and discriminated against. I have never done so, even though there have been times I probably should. I have been working with the Canadian Hearing Society lately, to get help with my interviews, and to figure out what is keeping you, the employer, from hiring me. I have never needed to do this, and it saddens me it has come to this.
Like anyone else, I want to work. I do not want to rely on social assistance or be dependent on my spouse. I have a lot to offer, and a unique perspective that can help your business. So the next time you see me sitting across from you in an interview, or chatting briefly with me while handing off a resume, take a second or third or fourth look at me. Think about taking a chance on me. I just might exceed your expectations. After all, my past employers did, and I exceeded their expectations, and learned and grew under their tutelage and direction. Think about what YOU might have to offer me, that you can teach me, and add to my experience. After all, part of a job is to learn and grow, and who best to teach someone the business than you?
Adding a link to my Communication Strategies post.