Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 155–165 | Cite as

Getting Hired: Successfully Employed People with Disabilities Offer Advice on Disclosure, Interviewing, and Job Search

  • Lita H. JansEmail author
  • H. Stephen Kaye
  • Erica C. Jones


Introduction Many people with disabilities want to work, but face employment barriers that have resulted in dismal employment rates. Successfully employed people with disabilities have valuable experience that can help others seeking employment, yet research literature provides little information about their strategies for discussing disabilities with employers and negotiating the hiring process. Method In five focus groups, 41 people competitively employed for at least 5 years discussed employment experiences related to their varied disabilities. The sample excluded people in disability-related jobs or self-employed. Data were coded and analyzed using a grounded theory method. Results Disclosure and discussion decisions were influenced by the nature of disability (visible, hidden, stigmatized, multiple), whether and when people needed accommodations, and the perceived “disability-friendliness” of organizations. Qualitative data analysis suggested guidelines for whether, when, and how to discuss disability, while acknowledging the complexity of decision-making depending on workplace culture and personal choices. Interview strategies included ways to emphasize strengths, gather information about duties and work environment, handle inappropriate questions, and address unspoken employer concerns. Participants gave disability-specific advice to help job-seekers balance their abilities and interests, and use networking and other approaches to find favorable opportunities. Concluding that people with disabilities must work harder than others to get a job, they described approaches and tools to help others achieve success. Conclusions Findings suggest approaches to assist job-seekers to make decisions about disclosing or discussing their disability, present themselves in a straight-forward, disability-positive manner, and find satisfying work based on their skills and interests.


People with disabilities Employment Disability disclosure Social stigma 



This research was funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education, under grant #H133A060098.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lita H. Jans
    • 1
    Email author
  • H. Stephen Kaye
    • 2
  • Erica C. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.DBTAC, Pacific ADA Center, Center on DisabilityPublic Health InstituteOaklandUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Health & AgingUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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