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Whether it’s for an internship, a part-time job or your first job after graduation: at some point you’ll find yourself in the situation of having to write a job application. Writing a good application that convinces employers is already a challenge, but how should you deal with your impairment in the application?? We have collected some info and food for thought for you.
The legal situation
All companies with at least 20 employees are obliged to fill at least 5% of their jobs with people with a severe disability. If they do not, they have to pay a fine for each unfilled job.
Despite this, many companies are very reluctant to hire people with disabilities. You are afraid of having to bear high costs in order to make workplaces barrier-free. In addition, people with severe disabilities are subject to special protection against dismissal, which is intended to prevent them from being dismissed without good cause.
If your impairment does not limit you in performing the job you are applying for, you do not have to declare it. If your potential future employer requires a driver’s license, but you don’t have or can’t get one because of your impairment, this is a limitation you should mention. If you have only a slight visual impairment and only need a little bit bigger writing, it is up to you if, when and how you mention the impairment.
Help with the decision
On the website rehadat-education.Applicants with impairments can find suggestions on how to make a decision here. Rehadat advises you to disclose your impairment if:
- you could catch the company off guard because, for example, you need to be barrier-free
- you need technical aids or assistance at the workplace
- You are interested in disability-related benefits such as additional vacation days, protection against dismissal, or tax breaks
- your employer has advantages if he/she employs you
- You feel comfortable openly communicating your impairment
In addition to all these points, you should also know that for severely disabled applicants, the company’s representative for severely disabled employees must be involved in the application process. The prerequisite is, of course, that the company has a representative body for severely disabled employees. This is responsible for avoiding disadvantages in the application process.
Disclose the impairment in the application
If you decide to mention your impairment, you should consider when, where and how you mention it. It is also possible to leave the impairment out of the written application and mention it only in the job interview.
The impairment should never be the main focus of your application. You should therefore only mention it in 1-2 sentences in your cover letter. If your impairment requires a lot of explanation, you can enclose a supplementary sheet – the so-called “third page” – with your application documents and/or explain it to the potential employer during the job interview.
You should also take care not to present the impairment in a negative light.
You can do this, for example, by linking the impairment with positive qualities that you have acquired through your restriction. Blind people often have a better trained hearing. In addition, people with impairments face challenges almost constantly that require a solution. This is also a skill.
Or do you employ a team of study assistants that you coordinate independently? Again, you may have acquired skills that may be of interest to the company.
Examples of how to deal with the impairment in the application
In the following, students tell you how and if they have addressed the impairment in the application process.
Student* in a wheelchair:
I am very open about it, although the disability is also no longer overlooked.
Students with chronic illnesses:
I am quite open about it. I listed my gdB (degree of disability) on my resume.
Student with mental illness:
I have only disclosed it in an interview so far. In the interview for my internship semester in a special form of living for people with psychiatric diagnosis to show my interest in the job.
Student* with visual impairment:
I mention them in the interview, but not in the cover letter.
Student*r with physical impairment, is not dependent on a wheelchair:
If I apply, I state my impairment in the application, as it is relatively obvious and will be noticed during an interview.
I am very open about my blindness, at the latest at the job interview you would see it anyway. This open approach has already made it possible for me to have an adapted job application procedure.