Job hunting under normal circumstances can be a stressful venture. The unsureness of change, finding the right fit, and then being awarded the position. Making your way in a new workplace, being a successful and productive addition to a new team are all big and potentially intimidating changes any job hunter faces. When you live with hearing loss, it’s multiplied. A lot.
People are challenged every day by the process of applying for a job. It’s a normal occurrence for someone to have difficulty marketing their best assets in a way that others will find attractive and a good fit for the position in question. For those with hearing loss, it comes down to a much more defined set of questions.
Interviewing is another potential pitfall for many, but with the right preparation techniques, you can walk out of the interview feeling like you did your best. Making a career change, whether by choice or by force, is a big deal. Here are some things you need to consider if you’re going to be applying for a job.
It’s in your best interest to get as many details about the position as possible before you apply. Is the job function something you can easily handle? This is important because it may be affected by the degree of your hearing loss. For example, if your applying for a position as a receptionist or call center operator, will the background noise of coworkers around you inhibit your ability to hear your potential customer on the phone?
Will you easily meet the skillset required without additional training? For many applicants, they’re often found to be either over or underqualified. Since you’ll be dealing with a whole new environment, new people, and working your way though a lot of new aspects, it’s best if you are fully qualified to take on the tasks you will be assigned. If you need additional training, it’s a good idea to seek it out before you apply.
With all these changes combined with hearing loss, the fact that you don’t understand a process can be frustrating enough to make you rethink your decision about job placement. This is something you should decide before you get too far into the process.
Along with this, asking yourself honestly if you’re qualified for this job is a realistic expectation. If you know you don’t have the education or skills to meet the requirements, save yourself the hassle and the employer the time and continue your search. Sometimes it’s difficult enough to do the things you are qualified to do.
Another question you need to ask yourself is if and when you will reveal your hearing loss to the potential employer. A lot depends on how comfortable you are with your degree of hearing loss as well as how severe it is. Will you need the employer to make any accommodations for you to successfully perform the job? If so, it’s best to let them know at the interview.
This might become apparent in the interview if you need to make any adjustments such as requesting a special placement in the room to see others speak or aim a good ear towards interviewers. If you don’t make a big deal about your hearing loss, others won’t dwell on it. Keep your conversation geared towards what you have to offer and how you will be an asset for their team.
If you use an Assistive Listening Device (ALD), give them an outline of the situation and an opportunity to ask questions. When you are able to answer matter of factly and with confidence, this shows them that you are able to handle the situation and it should alleviate most of their concerns. One goal for your interview is to make them feel comfortable with the fact that you are fully capable of doing the job with a hearing loss.
Be sure you have any questions or concerns written down to ask at the interview, and likewise, be prepared for them to ask you questions. Not just about your skills and capabilities, but if you share details of your hearing loss or if you need to request certain accommodations, they are sure to have questions of they’re own.
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, employers are prohibited to discriminate against any employee or potential employee with a disability. You can read more about this at www.ada.gov. According to the ADA, you must meet the “essential function” for any job you apply for. This means that you are capable of doing the work which is the reason the job exists, such as a delivery driver must be able to drive.
No matter what position you’re applying for, always remember, you’re a marketable commodity and your goal is to sell yourself and your skills to the highest bidder (or the employer who has the most to offer you). Whether you want insurance, a 401K, a better paycheck, or just need to find something to get you by for now, every employer has needs. Your goal is to show them you’re in control of your hearing loss and that you can fulfill that need.
If you’ve done your homework and are prepared to walk into the interview armed with the best and most positive side of yourself for them to see, most employers are able to see the value you can bring to the table. If they don’t, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway.