Creating a resume can be a challenging task. Many people find it difficult to talk about themselves or to articulate their strengths. If you’re a person with a disability, you may find writing a resume even more challenging and wonder where to begin.
Your resume is the time to highlight your strengths, experience and achievements. It is your opportunity to sell yourself to the employer in preparation of advancing to the next step: the interview. Key elements of your resume include your work history, qualifications, and positive skills. Be sure to use keywords that make you sound confident and competitive.
As you start to organize your thoughts about writing your resume decide on what format/type fits you best. There are several types of resumes: chronological, functional, or a combination of both.
Chronological: Lists your work history in reverse order. In this format you list your most recent employment first, continuing back in order of your work history. This resume is great for reflecting steady employment and focuses on your most recent or relevant jobs. Employers find this option easy to read.
Functional: Showcase your skills and abilities. In this format, applicants include a summary of qualifications at the beginning of the resume. Ideal for those with gaps in their professional work history, this resume is best if you want to highlight your skills rather than consistent employment. It is also a great format if your resume doesn’t show steady work in the same industry, you’ve changed careers, or are entering or reentering the workforce.
Combination: Includes the best parts of a chronological and functional resume. This resume allows you to highlight your qualifications and capture your work history to attract employers’ attention.
When you start writing your resume, keep these helpful tips in mind.
Working in social services and employment for 25 years, I have helped many people to develop their resumes. It can be overwhelming to start, but creating a strong resume is an important first step in making a great first impression with a potential employer.
Here are some of the most common questions I’ve heard related to disabilities and the first stages of resume development:
First ask yourself, “Can I do this job?”. If your disability does not affect your ability to perform the job, then you are not obligated to disclose. There are laws around disability disclosure, so it’s important to know the facts. CPWD’s Disability Disclosure Workshop covers your legal rights, before and on the job.
There has been a stigma that has existed in hiring a person with a disability. It results from misinformation, lack of understanding, education and training. However, it’s a different world than 20 years ago. Employers are realizing the disability workforce has changed this scenario. They are realizing the attributes, skills, and dedication people with disabilities bring to the workforce. So, what you put on your resume matters!
Find ways to fill those spaces; don’t leave it blank. Include information on what makes you a desirable candidate. This could be volunteer experience, job shadowing, career exploration, attending career fairs, training and education.
In today’s labour market, an employer will specifically ask for a cover letter. It’s always good practice to have one ready and a great way for an employer to learn more about you than what is on your resume. A cover letter is a one-page letter to explain why you would be a great fit for the role. When closing the cover letter, be sure to thank the employer and add the best way that they can contact you.
Writing a resume can be daunting at first, but once you have a foundation, you can keep returning to it to add skills and experience. With these tips, you can build a resume and cover letter that ensures you will make a positive first impression on the hiring company.
If you’re looking for additional assistance on writing your resume and cover letter, we have workshops specifically designed to walk you through the steps. Learn more about our free courses.
Experienced Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the individual and family services industry. Skilled in Community Outreach, Facilitating, Job Development, Recruiting, Mock Interviews, Interview Preparation, Self Image, and Labour Market Research. Strong professional with 25 years experience in the not-for-profit and social services sectors.