Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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To tell or not to tell

Hamlet had it wrong. The questions isn't  "to be or not to be?," but rather "to tell or not to tell?" about your disability while searching for work.
More than 49 million people across the nation have some level of disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For many of these people, finding and keeping a job is difficult due to a physical or mental impairment they possess.
Dr. Daniel J. Ryan is on a mission to help these people overcome their employment obstacles. In his new book, Job Search Handbook for People with Disabilities, Third Edition,
Ryan offers solid job search guidance enhanced with expert advice on issues specific to job seekers with disabilities. Ryan demystifies employment laws, explains how to assess strengths and weaknesses, offers advice on asking for accommodations and much more.
He also offers a wealth of advice on one of the major challenges people with disabilities grapple with during their job search: when and how to disclose their disability to a potential employer. Below are a few of the tips Ryan shares regarding this dilemma:
* If your disability is visible, your interviewer may have questions about your ability to do the job. You should be prepared for these questions, and you can do that by first making contact with the Job Accommodation Network.
* If your disability is visible, it is best to address it directly early on in the interview. Because human nature is what it is, a failure to disclose the disability may result in the interviewer going through the motions, trying to be careful not to break any laws, but focusing less on your answers.
* When addressing your disability, point out that it will not impact your ability to perform the functions of the job, or that it will require only minimal accommodations. Although there is no guarantee, this approach is your best bet at getting the interviewer's attention focused where you want it-on your ability to do the job.
* If your disability is not visible, it is up to you as to when or if you ever disclose it. In most cases, I have advised clients to wait until after an offer is extended to disclose any disability. After you have agreed upon the terms of employment and have established a starting date, you should mention any accommodations you may need so that the employer can have them in place for you when you start.
The book also covers:
* The history of people with disabilities in the world of work: what has changed and what has not
* Agencies and government programs that can assist people with disabilities
* Employment laws: which rights and protections should people with disabilities be aware of
* How to fit in and succeed with a disability in the workplace
* How to normalize your disability for peers and co-workers
Dr. Ryan has researched job search issues for people with disabilities for nearly 20 years and presented his findings at national and regional professional conferences. He has received the Professional Service Award from the Association on Higher Education and Disability, where he serves as the Special Interest Coordinator on Career Planning Issues. ###

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