So you finally landed that job interview you were hoping to get. It’s the night before and you prepared your notes, polished your resume, studied the history of the company. Only one problem – you have hearing loss, and you’re unsure how your potential employer will treat you. You’re unsure how to act.
What can you do?
Whether it’s a first job or you’re looking to change careers later in life, those hard of hearing often feel at a disadvantage when it comes to the employment field.
Mark Bernard, in the Hearing Like Me blog, wrote about his struggle finding a job with hearing loss: “In order to make yourself marketable with your hearing loss, the question you have to ask yourself is this: ‘What would make me able to survive and be invaluable in a zombie apocalypse?’”
The very next sentence he confesses that this might be a strange conflation of circumstances, but he hits on an important point. “In society [there are certain things] that people will always need. And I think that makes a good starting point to look at your own skills and passions and see what needs you can cover for others.”
Bernard asks you to consider not only what benefits you can bring to a new job, but also what strengths your hearing loss has enabled. Turn what others might view as a disadvantage into an invaluable part of what you can bring to the table.
Traditional interview advice certainly applies to all applicants — know the company you want to work for inside and out, practice answering questions in the mirror, prepare a good interview outfit, and take extra copies of your resume. For those with hearing problems though, Nail Bauman, Ph.D. – relaying advice – takes it one step further.
“You don’t want to approach your prospective employer with an attitude of ‘this is what I need because I have hearing loss… Rather approach your prospective employer from the opposite perspective.” This is in line with Bernard’s thinking. To repeat – what special skills and perspectives has your life afforded you? What, in turn, can you offer your employer?
Work Place Hearing Requirements
Though its true you want to focus on your own skills and what you can offer, not what you need, it’s also important to know your rights.
The ADA protects employees and potential employees from discrimination. This means an employer may “not take action against you (or refuse to hire you in the first place) because you have a disability, you have a history of a disability, or the employer perceives you — even incorrectly — as having a disability.” To be protected, “you must be qualified for the job and able to perform its essential functions.” The ADA also promises that the employer will provide reasonable accommodation.
The Hearing Loss Association of America lays out a few links and even an Employment Toolkit, to help those with hearing loss search for a job.