Let Your Abilities Shine

by Rachel Vilsack

If you are a job seeker with a disability, there are many state resources to help you succeed in your job search. When it comes down to applying for jobs, knowing how your skills match the needs of the employer – and displaying those skills on a job application or resume – is key. Wherever you are in your lifelong career journey, here are some important tips to let your abilities shine.


Know Your Skills

The process of looking for a job involves knowing what skills you can bring to an employer. If you are new to the job market, it might be necessary to take a skills assessment  to see which occupations are a match for the skills that are important to you. If you have a Vocational Rehabilitation employment counselor, they can also help you determine what career options fit your unique skill set.


However, skills are important for all job seekers. If you’ve been laid off from your job or have been out of the job market for a longer period of time, your interests – even your skills – may have changed since the last time you were employed. You may need to reassess your job goal.  Or you might find that to successfully compete for job openings in your previous occupation, you need to expand your skills by taking a class or other training program.


Read the Job Description

When you begin your job search, it’s important to take time to read the job description and consider the requirements needed or qualifications identified by the employer. This sounds like silly advice, but why would you apply for a job if you can’t – or don’t want – to do the typical tasks associated with the job?


Consider the following questions when you search for job opportunities:

  • Do I have the skills required to do the job?
  • Am I able to do the tasks listed?


If your answer to these questions is no, then this might not be a good job match for you. It might be helpful to discuss these questions with your employment counselor, too. Some job accommodations may be available to help you perform the essential functions of a job.


In general, don’t set yourself up for failure by applying for jobs that your skills don’t match!


Present Your Abilities

If you have gaps in your work history – due to an illness, recovery, or you’ve just been laid off for an extended period of time – you want to create a resume that promotes you as the best candidate for the job. A functional resume is a good option because it highlights the skills and strengths you bring to an employer.


If you’re asked to fill out a job application, it’s important to follow directions and fill out the application completely. Don’t leave questions unanswered. If asked to provide a reason for leaving your past employer, choose your words carefully. Avoid using the words “fired,” “illness,” or “personal reasons.”


For more information on different styles of resumes and how to successfully apply for jobs, consider attending a free workshop at your local Minnesota WorkForce Center.


If you made it through the application process, check out some tips on how to interview with confidence.



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