[fusion_text][dropcap]F[/dropcap]inding a job, and being happy with your daily work is important to most people, people with CP can face extra challenges when entering the workplace, both from the world around them, but also from the CP itself. In this article I will explore how I would advise tackling the issues that can arise with CP and work.

CP and work
Image courtesy of tupungato @istockphoto.com

Landing the Dream Job

Wether or not to disclose your CP on your job application can be a tough choice. I have never done so, and I left it out on purpose. Unless you are applying somewhere where they look to prioritize including and hiring people with disabilities its my personal opinion that you don´t need to disclose your CP when you apply. You want the perspective employer to see you, and everything that you have to offer. Not just the CP.

Even though businesses should not discriminate against people with disabilities, it is so easy for someone, faced with two identical candidates qualification wise, but where one has CP, to choose the able bodied person. They may just think “well, it´s probably less to worry about, and we are so busy” or something like that. Another reason I believe it is best to wait to the interview process to disclose your CP is the human factor. People fear what they do not understand, and people are also far less likely to be empathetic or understanding/open minded, if all you are to them is a name on a paper. If they can see you face to face, and you do a great job at showing them your strengths, you level the playing field a lot more.

I Got It! Now What?

So, you landed that dream job, Congratulations! When I got my first job in IT, I was happy, and wanted to work as much as I could and didn’t really give much thought to the CP. I thought that I´d be able to handle it like always. However, no matter how much you wish for something sometimes, its hard to avoid reality. And after a while of working 100 % my body started to tell me quite clearly that this wasn’t going to work for very much longer. Initially this made me a bit sad and frustrated but luckily my employer at the time was understanding, and we ended up agreeing that I should work 50%. When I reduced my workload, not only was I less tired, but the hours I actually worked were far more effective, because I was rested and my mind wasn’t worn out.

I have also learned in recent years that the type of job you have has a huge impact on my energy level, as well as wether or not I am satisfied with my job, if that was not the case, I felt a lot more drained.
I had my IT job for 4 years, and whilst it was a job I liked (Ive always been interested in computers and everything tech related) it was also a somewhat physically demanding job. Since I did not have a drivers license I had to get around on foot to help people in different places around the municipality. Also there was quite often equipment that needed to be carried, or moved etc.

Now a days I am one of the co-founders of a video game company (Lumi Games), and the work I do is almost always 100% stationary, since I program for the majority of the day + some additional administrative duties. As most entrepreneurs or people who have done any sort of project from the ground up would know, it is extremely rewarding, but it is also  a lot of work! There are some weeks I work 11 hours a day for several days, but I still have a higher energy level than what I did have in my IT job. Sure, I do get tired from time to time, and sometimes my body will tell me to take a break, but it happens far less than it used to it.

CP and Work: Striking a balance

The lesson to be learned from that I think is that finding work that is harmonious with your CP so to speak, is important if you still want to have energy and time left over to do other things in your life. The combination of CP and work can be a tricky one, and whilst you shouldn’t let the CP control your life, it is a good idea to acknowledge it, and try to find solutions where you can enjoy a rewarding job, but still keep your energy level at such a level where you still have enough to enjoy life and do other things.

Below are my top 3 tips regarding CP and Work:

  1. Think closely whether or not you should disclose your CP in the job application, can it wait till the interview?
  2. Communicate with your prospective or current employer about the CP and your needs. Whilst I understand it can sometimes be uncomfortable to discuss the CP with your employer, or that you don’t want to feel like the CP is defining you, it is still important to talk to your employer, they might not be aware of your specific needs or the effects of the CP, and that may lead to misunderstandings.
  3. Choose a line of work that can work with your CP. Again, whilst I don’t think we should let the CP dictate all aspects of our lives, its beneficial for your life in general if you at least acknowledge it and make some adjustments, to lead a happier life, that can be choosing a field of work that is not as physically demanding, or it can be to find a job within that field that is better suited for you and the CP.

As always please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. It helps me greatly if you would share or like the article if you found it useful, so thank you!

Cover image courtesy of bluebay2014 @ iStockphoto.com
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4 Responses

  1. This is a great article. I have never once mentioned the fact that I have CP during a job search process and don’t think it has harmed me in any way. Since I have Spastic Diplegia and can walk independently. I think it’s irrelevant. All of the jobs I have applied to and had are corporate jobs where I just need to be able to sit a desk so the CP is not an issue. Also, and this has more to do with my ego, but I don’t want to be a “check the box” hire. When I get a job I want to be sure I got it because I am the most qualified person of all the candidates they interviewed.

  2. Thanks for your comment Frantz! 🙂 I don´t mention it ever, I know that people can discriminate even if it is not on purpose. It creates a preconception of you in their head, that might not coincide with reality.

  3. I enjoyed this article a lot. I have CP and am lucky enough to work for an employer who is completly disabled friendly. My boss is completly blind and I am his administrative assistant. I did struggle to find a job after college however, I always wondered if it had something to do with the way I talk since my motor skills are a bit weak and it effects my speech. The work place is a tricky place especially for those of us with CP. Good luck to you all.

  4. Thank you for the comment Anna! 🙂 Thats great to hear, having CP and getting a job can be challenging, there is still some way to go before we are seen just for our abilities and not for the disability in all aspects, but its great that you have found and employer who doesn’t discriminate. 🙂

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