Working can have life changing benefits for people with intellectual disability. Maybe you want to earn money and be more independent – or maybe you’re excited to learn new skills and meet new people. 

Whatever your employment goals are, there are jobs out there for you and workplaces where you can succeed. With the right support, you can overcome the challenges, find meaningful work and contribute to your community.

Here are 5 steps to succeeding at work with an intellectual disability:

1. Speak with an employment consultant about jobs that are a good fit for you

Everyone has different wants and needs when it comes to work. It’s important to look for a job where you can use your skills and let your strengths shine. 

An employment consultant can help you think about possible job types and workplaces which would be a good fit for you. They can also help you find suitable opportunities in your local area.

When thinking about what types of jobs you could work in, it’s good to ask yourself:

  • What am I good at doing?
  • What am I interested in?
  • What environment do I work best in?
  • What are my challenges?

For more advice and inspiration, check out this helpful guide to jobs for people with intellectual disability.

2. Showcase your strengths in your resume and cover letter

Your resume and cover letter should show potential employers why you’re the best candidate for the job. 

Your resume should include information about:

  • Your contact details
  • Your education and qualifications
  • Previous work experience
  • Any volunteer work you’ve done
  • Your skills and qualities

It’s best to write a new resume or edit your old one every time you apply for a new job. 

You should include information and keywords that are relevant for the position and company you’re applying for. Look at the job description to find keywords and skills that the employer is looking for in a candidate.

In your cover letter, introduce yourself and explain why you’d be a great candidate for the role. Keep your cover letter around half a page long and don’t forget to proofread it for spelling and grammar mistakes.

3. Prepare and practice for job interviews

It’s important to prepare for a job interview so that you can make a good impression. 

Think about what you are going to wear to the interview and how you are going to get there on the day. Try to arrive 10 minutes early – this shows that you are punctual and organised. It also gives you time to calm down and go into the interview with a clear mind.

During the interview, sit with good posture and look the interviewer in the eye. Try not to fidget.

It’s a good idea to practice answering common interview questions at home with a friend or family member. 

Common interview questions include:

  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • What can you bring to the role?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Try to give real life examples of your strengths and skills. For example, instead of simply saying “I’m a good team member,” think of a time when you showed good teamwork skills in the past. For example “When I was part of the team at (business) I really enjoyed working with my coordinator and team members from (other) department on (project/event/task).”

After the interview, don’t forget to thank the interviewer for their time. 

4. Ask for workplace accommodations

Sometimes small changes in the workplace can help you feel more confident in your role and perform at a higher level.

In Australia, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to help employers feel safe and supported at work. Your employer may even be eligible for government funding to make some accommodations.

Workplace accommodations could include things like:

  • Finding a work buddy who can support you
  • Using visual reminders to help you remember the next step
  • Providing special equipment to help you do your job
  • Giving you verbal instructions rather than written ones
  • Breaking big tasks into smaller steps

If you’re not sure how to talk to your boss about accommodations, a Disability Employment Services provider can help assess your workplace to find solutions that work for everyone. 

5. Get support from Disability Employment Services

Finding a job can be hard work. If you’re feeling discouraged about your job search, support is available. You could be eligible for disability employment assistance.

Disability Employment Services is a government funded program which helps thousands of job seekers like you find and keep a job.

If you already have a job, but are finding it hard to cope, a Disability Employment Service provider can help you get the support you need to stay in work and feel confident in your role.

As a participant, you can get help with things like:

  • Finding suitable job opportunities
  • Work experience and employment skills training
  • Writing your resume and cover letter
  • Preparing for job interviews
  • Accessing workplace accommodations

You can access Disability Employment services through Centrelink or by contacting a provider directly.

Your path to employment success

Everyone’s journey with employment is different. Whether you’re looking for your first job, changing careers or currently working, you can achieve your goals and overcome the challenges with the right support.