Getting Hired: Disclosing a Service-Connected Disability
Congratulations, you’ve made the decision to actively seek employment! Hopefully, by now you have learned about the Hire Heroes USA Job Board, which gives you access to over 900 military and veteran-friendly employers that are regularly seeking qualified job applicants. As you review various career announcements and determine which positions you would like to apply for, you will find that most employers provide an opportunity to voluntarily disclose if you have a service-connected disability on their employment application.
Disclosing a service-connected disability is a personal decision; there is no right or wrong path, but there are a lot of factors to consider as you move forward. Below are some questions that can help you make a choice. This list is designed to empower you in making a decision about whether you should disclose a disability on an employment application.
- Do I require a reasonable accommodation to complete the employment application?
- Am I able to perform the essential duties of the position?
- What does the interview process look like? Will I require an accommodation to complete the interview?
- How would I discuss a visible disability during an interview?
Not all employer web sites are 508 compliant; depending on the type of assistive technology you use, you may require a reasonable accommodation to even just complete the application process. Most employers will list contact information on their website to use if you do need to request an accommodation. If you aren’t able to locate contact information, reach out to the company’s Human Resources office.
Be sure to review the position description carefully. In most cases, the essential functions of the job will be listed in the posting. Decide on whether you can perform the essential functions with or without reasonable accommodation. Exercising due diligence will help you determine this early during the application and/or interview phase. If you’re unable to identify a job’s essential functions, ask about them during your interview.
Waiting to discuss reasonable accommodation for the first time during a performance evaluation places both you and the employer at a disadvantage. Be honest with your potential new employer, as well as with yourself.
When you receive an invitation for an interview, ask what the interview process involves. Depending on what that looks like, you may need to request reasonable accommodation during your interview. The more you know about the process, the easier it will be to make a decision on whether or not to disclose your disability at that time. If you feel like you need assistance during any phase of the application, interview, or performance process, ask for it.
If you have a visible disability, focus on your abilities rather than your limitations. Talk about how reasonable accommodations have supported you during previous professional experiences. Share how you have exceeded performance expectations as you carried out the mission and vision of your previous employers. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions. One of the most valuable things you can do is to learn as much as you can about the position and its performance expectations.
According to the United States Equal Employment Office Commission, nearly 30% of veterans have reported a service-connected disability. Many veterans have expressed concerns with regard to the disclosure of a service-connected disability and possible discrimination before, during, and after an employment offer from an employer. Empower yourself and know your rights as a veteran with a disability. The resources below can assist you in identifying the most appropriate accommodations for you.
- U.S. Department of Labor – Career One Stop
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
- Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR)
- Computer/Electronics Accommodations Program (CAP)
April Ogden has 20+ years of professional experience related to vocational rehabilitation management and vocational rehabilitation counseling.