5 things I wish I knew before applying for jobs with a disability
This isn’t just about not lying about your grades or inventing work experience you never actually had, but about being the real you. Employers will be getting dozens, if not hundreds, of applications from people who have substantially the same qualifications and may have similar internships and employment history. The way to stand out is through trying to inject as much as ‘you’ into the application as possible. Tell them about your genuine interests – don’t write about tax law if you have absolutely no interest in it, and don’t tell them your favourite hobby is studying if you actually love singing, decoupage, and basketball. They’re going to find out eventually if they do hire you. And if they don’t hire. you, it might be because your surface-level knowledge of what you’re claiming either gave you an air of inauthenticity or they could sense that your heart wasn’t in it.
2.Applications are competitive, but they’re not the Hunger Games.
If you put too much effort into trying to best the other applicants, you’re not going to be focused on making your application the best it can be. If you focus on studying your notes instead of chatting with your fellow interviewees, then you’re not going to come across as a team-player. Sure, applying for jobs is competitive, and a zero-sum game, however the person who wrote the application before or after yours may very well be your colleague some day. There’s no use alienating people for the sake of a job – there’s plenty of opportunities out there!
3.Put quality before quantity.
Research the firms you are applying to properly – don’t just copy and paste your application into dozens of submission boxes and hope for the best. Everyone applies to firms they’re not excited about, however if you get the job you’re not going to be as happy as if you worked harder on an application for a job you loved. By putting the time into researching firms, finding the ones that really excite you, and writing applications tailored to what they are looking for, you will greatly improve your chances of success, and, even better, improve your chances at getting a job you’ll love.
4.Talk to people who work there already.
Who knows the place better than its current employees? And who knows better how to best apply than the people who have made successful applications? Most people are more than happy to receive a random message on LinkedIn asking them some questions about the firm and how to write a successful application, advice for assessment centres, or how to turn an internship into an offer. If you’re not comfortable with a cold-call, and don’t have any contacts already, try asking people from your own network – recent graduates of your university, for example, to see if they know anyone who can help you out and would be happy for you to get in touch. Also, see what events the firm is running, what conferences they’re appearing at, and what networking or application advice sessions they offer.
5.What ‘commercial awareness’ actually means.
It’s not some magical phrase that you aspire to decode – it’s just having some idea of what’s going on in the world around you. When I applied, I didn’t have a clue what deals my firm had worked on, however I knew the landscape they were happening in. Try reading business news, I use the BBC, CNN, and the Financial Times the most, and accessing subscriptions provided by your university. What’s the economy like? What’s happening in world affairs? Who’s the Prime Minister? That sort of thing; it’s not rocket science, just not living under a rock!