National Center for Learning Disabilities

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In the Workplace

As a person with a learning disability (LD), how can you leverage your strengths to find a job that you enjoy or improve the one that you have? Explore this section for tips on conducting an effective job search, being successful in the workplace and disclosing your LD status to colleagues.

Adults LD - In the Workplace

In the Workplace

Assessing Interests and Abilities

Career Development - Finding a CareerTaking a closer look at your interests and abilities can help you make better choices whenever you're faced with big decisions regarding the future. Before setting your goals, it's a good idea to think about what you enjoy doing most, what you're good at, and how challenges that lie ahead might impact your future. At some point you'll want to ask yourself some of the following questions:

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Determining Your Marketable Skills

Job Skills - Life SkillsMany of your strengths and abilities are "marketable." This means that they are of value to employers. Your marketable skills can be applied to specific jobs. Employers will want you to have both job-specific skills and the right disposition and interpersonal skills to adapt to the workplace. Job-specific skills might include: carpentry, sewing, electrical wiring and bookkeeping. General skills could include getting along with others, being a team player, managing time, respecting diversity, organizing work, and problem-solving.

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How Can I Learn a Trade? Internships, Technical Education, and More

Career Preparation - Learning Disabilities JobsTwo excellent ways to explore your career interests and learn a specific trade are internships and apprenticeships. Both experiences allow you to observe and assist working people. Most offer valuable training that will help you learn the skills required for a particular job or career. And if you want job-focused education after high school, consider career and technical schools.

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Disclosure on the Job

Employer Disability - Employer Disability Congratulations! You’ve gotten the job. Now the question is: Do you disclose your LD or keep it to yourself? There are arguments on both sides. Many adults fear that if they disclose their LD to their supervisor, they will no longer be trusted to take on important projects. Others fear being stigmatized by their coworkers. However, you should know that more people today are familiar with learning disabilities than ever before, and LD on the job has become more prevalent and generally accepted. What is more, if you decide to tell your boss about your LD and need for accommodations, this information must be kept confidential. Your coworkers are not entitled to know about your disability unless you choose to tell them.

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Questions Employers Might Ask at the Job Interview

How to Do An Interview - Interview Skills

Employers use job interviews to get a better sense of whether the applicant is a good fit for the job. The interview is also an opportunity to learn about the specific job responsibilities, the employer, and the work climate. It is an opportunity for you to determine if the position is right for you. It is also a chance to determine what challenges you might face because of your learning disability at this potential place of employment.

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Your Job Search: Filling Out a Job Application

Job ApplicationMany employers will ask you to complete a job application. Your application gives the employer important information about you, including your contact details (address, telephone number, email address, etc.), education, skills, and job history. Sometimes you’ll fill out the application online and then submit it online. Other times, especially for smaller companies, you’ll print the application, fill it out in black or blue pen, and then mail or fax it to the employer. You may also visit a business and fill out an application there. However, it’s reasonable to ask if you can take an application home to complete and return later. That allows you to take your time and check your work.

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The Effective Job Search

How to Look for a Job - How to Find a Career

To identify jobs that use your skills and abilities, try the following:

  1. Check the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This guide allows you to explore information about many different careers.

  2. Read the "Help Wanted" ads in newspapers to find jobs that might tap your strengths and skills.

  3. Talk with people in the workforce who have interests and strengths similar to yours. Ask them about their jobs. You might even be able to spend a few hours "shadowing," or following them at work. This will give you a good sense of what their jobs are like.

  4. Volunteer to work in a job area that interests you. This might be a good way to find out more about a specific occupation firsthand and determine if it is right for you.

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Preparing for a Job Interview

Adults with LD - Preparing Job InterviewIf you have been called for a job interview, congratulations! Your resume, letter, or phone call has gotten the employer interested in you. Your interview will allow the employer to get a better sense of whether you’re a good fit for the job. The interview is also your opportunity to learn about the job responsibilities and expectations, get a sense of how it might be to work for this employer, and discuss ways you could be a valuable employee. From the interview, you’ll determine if the job is right for you. You’re also likely to better understand how your learning disability might or might not present challenges in this job and workplace.

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How to Write a Cover Letter

Cover Letters - Adults with LDWhether you’re responding to a specific job opening or simply writing to express interest in working at a company, you should send a cover letter along with your resumé. The main purpose of your cover letter is to direct the reader to your resumé, but it is also a sales pitch in its own right. Highlight in your letter exactly which skills and experiences found on your resumé make you a great candidate for the position, and why the particular job or company is appealing to you. As with your resumé, make sure you proofread your letter before sending it, and ask someone else to proofread it as well. Your letter must be free of typos and errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

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Where to Look for a Job

Where to Find a Job - Adults with LDIt used to be that job seekers would simply open their local newspaper, search for openings in the Help Wanted section, and mail out a slew of resumés and cover letters to potential employers. But that approach is rarely effective these days. The vast majority of job listings can now be found only online, and most employers encourage, or even require, applicants to send their resumés and cover letters electronically. (If you don’t own a computer, you will likely find one that you can use at your public library.)

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