I have a disability but it does not affect my work. Do I have to mention this to a prospective employer?
Dear Disabled Nurse,
Although the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits a prospective employer from discriminating against someone because of a disability, it doesn’t prevent someone from not hiring you without revealing any reasons. So you may need to be creative, flexible and persistent with your approach to finding a job.
You are not obligated to mention any medical condition or disability on an interview unless you need special accommodation (adaptive/assistive device, etc.). However, if your disability is obvious — i.e. you walk with a cane, use a wheelchair, wear dark glasses, have a tremor, etc. — you might consider saying something in passing to alleviate any concerns the employer might have about liability issues or your ability to do a job. For example, if you walk with a cane, you might nonchalantly say during the interview, “By the way, although I do use a cane to walk, I have no limitations on how long I can be on my feet — just in case you were wondering.” Say this with a smile on your face to reassure the employer.
When networking and going on job interviews, focus on your experience, credentials and skill set. Downplay any limitations or disabilities. If you will need special accommodation on the job, you certainly will need to mention that at some point. But don’t bring it up in the beginning. Give any prospective employer an opportunity to get to know you and to be sold on you and your background. Remember that when all is said and done, employers look for someone with a positive, upbeat, can-do personality. So wow them with your charm, your excellent communication skills and your enthusiasm and professionalism.
The article “Working with a disability” offers additional tips and advice on the subject.