Self-Advocacy and Job-Seeking Skills

Work is a significant part of your life and it is important that you make your own decisions about what type of work you want to do. Being a self-advocate means speaking up about the important decisions in your life and being in control of decisions about your life.

If you have a career that you find interesting and satisfying, it can give you a great source of purpose, enjoyment, and self-confidence. The best way to make sure you find satisfying work is to keep your job search focused on your interests and the type of work that you enjoy doing.

Part of the process of self-advocacy involves improving your job-seeking skills so that you are more in charge of your job search. Focus on core issues first, such as improving your resume, writing a clear cover letter, and taking advantage of opportunities to meet people who might help you with your job search. Other important skills are how to prepare for and do well in an interview.

CareerOneStop.com has articles on job-seeking skills. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) also has a page that discusses how to prepare for a job interview.

If you need another person to help you with your job search, you can apply to work with a counselor at the the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) . To find the closest office near you, click here.

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) provides a general list of job finding tools and resources, including organizations that offer career counseling and employment support. EDD also offers a variety of services for job seekers with disabilities, including local coordinators working in eight regions statewide.

Disability-Related Job Resources on the Web

There are several disability-specific job banks available online.

CareerCast Disability Network posts current jobs, and provides a list of the best jobs for people with disabilities. DisABLED Person allows you to connect with future employers by posting your resume and finding detailed information about potential jobs. Job listings and information for job seekers with disabilities are also available at GettingHired.

Sponsored by the California Health Incentives Improvement Project, Talent Knows No Limits (TKNL) is a statewide effort to promote awareness of the services and resources available to job seekers with disabilities, and to break barriers and combat myths about the employability of people with disabilities. TKNL provides a wide range of information for job-seekers with disabilities.

Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) is a national association that includes more than 600 colleges and universities and over 500 major national employers. COSD's mission is to improve the employment rate of college students and recent graduates with disabilities on a national basis.

America's Job Centers of California

America's Job Centers of California (AJCCs) offer jobseekers the ability to register and search for jobs throughout California, both online and at local centers.

You can visit a center in person to get help with your job search or career planning. Each center has knowledgeable staff to guide you, with essential tools to make your job search a success. Most services are free of charge. Search online to find the center nearest to you.

Services Offered

AJCC staff can tell you about the services offered at the center and any special services that might be available to you. Staff can also give you advice about which local employers are hiring, teach you the basics of conducting a job search, and help you with your resume. They can help you use online job banks and other employment websites, such as CalJOBS, which lets you search for jobs, build a resume, use career resources, and get details about education and training programs

The centers have office equipment that will help you in your job search, such as telephones, photocopy machines, computers with internet access, printers, and fax machines. Each center also has various resources available about how to search for a job, write resumes and cover letters, interview effectively, and find out which industries and jobs are expected to offer good prospects for the future.

All centers provide a range of assistive technology and staff to help you use their services and resources.

Courses, Workshops and Trainings

These local job centers offer a variety of workshops to help you with your job search and career planning. Examples of workshops include interviewing skills, networking, Internet job searches, completing job applications, and writing effective resumes and cover letters.

Local centers also host career or job fairs that bring many employers together at once. They are great places to apply for jobs or just to learn about what industries are hiring and what types of positions are available. EDD lists job fairs and workshops by region.

Other excellent courses, workshops and trainings on career planning and skills are offered through local community colleges, community education departments, and nonprofit groups.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services can offer you a wide variety of counseling, training, job skills and job placement services. Vocational Rehabilitation is a term for programs that help people with disabilities become employed. In California, the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) offers these services to persons who qualify.

California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR)

For more information about employment services, you can visit the DOR website or call the DOR at 916-324-1313, 1-800-952-5544, or 916-558-5807 (TTY).

The California Department of Rehabilitation can help you get the training or other services that you need to return to work, to enter a new line of work, or to enter the workforce for the first time. The services they offer to you are carefully chosen to match your personal needs. You and your counselor will work together closely to set goals and then develop a plan to help you reach them.

Eligibility

Eligibility for VR is based mostly on whether you have a physical or mental disability that makes it difficult to prepare for, get or keep work.

If you get Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you are presumed eligible for vocational rehabilitation services from the California DOR.

Health Insurance While Seeking a Job

There are a variety of resources to help you get health insurance, if you don’t have insurance. If you need health insurance, you can apply for private health coverage or Medi-Cal using Covered California. Also, when you begin to work, you may be able to get health care by enrolling in the Medi-Cal for the Working Disabled program.

Specialized Services for the Blind, Visually Impaired, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing

If you have significant vision or hearing loss, specialized services from the California Department of Rehabilitation can help you prepare for, find and keep a job, and live as independently as possible.

This program offers a variety of services, including counseling, training, job skills, and job placement services. These can include:

  • Career Counseling and Guidance
  • Job Development and Placement
  • Employment Training
  • Assistive Technology
  • Rehabilitation Teaching for the Blind
  • Orientation and Mobility Training
  • Instruction in Braille
  • Adjustment to Disability Counseling

The services offered to you will vary depending on your personal needs. Counselors will work with you to figure out which services you will need to reach your job goal. For more information, click here or call the California Department of Rehabilitation at 916-324-1313, 1-800-952-5544, or 916-558-5807 (TTY).

Applying for Specialized Services

To apply for these special services, contact the nearest DOR office.