The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

June 13, 2014

Watercooler: The delicacy of disclosing a disability

Q: At what point in the job application process should I reveal that I am visually impaired? Last time I was considered for a job, I did not mention my disability in several pre-interview phone conversations with my prospective boss. He was impressed with my skills and experience, and strongly indicated that I would fit in well. At my official interview, he was surprised to discover that I use a mobility cane, and later made what seemed an excuse not to hire me (I "didn't seem excited enough about the position").

I don't want to give the impression that I believe my low vision should factor into the hiring decision or that it affects the quality of my performance; I have needed only minimal accommodations at work since I began losing my eyesight more than two decades ago. It's a nuisance to me personally, but it has never been an impediment to doing my job well. I fear that notifying employers too early and thus making an issue of my liability might make them think that hiring me would be a risk. But I don't also want to make interviewers uncomfortable.

A: As I mentioned in a recent column, you are not required to disclose a disability unless you're requesting an accommodation. It doesn't define you, and it should be irrelevant to the hiring decision.

However, yours is a chronic, visible condition that will require at least some long-term accommodation if you are hired. True, the interviewer might have been put off by your impairment — or he may have inferred, correctly or not, that you deliberately withheld the information because you didn't trust him to give you a fair shake if he knew about it in advance.

So I believe this is one of the rare times it would do more good than harm to reveal a personal medical condition before showing up at the interview. If you know there will be a written test, for example, ask if you can have it read to you and respond orally. Or mention that you were the first legally blind professional to [insert impressive accomplishment here] at your current employer. Add that you'll be happy to answer any questions about your disability as it relates to the position when you meet in person.

Text Only
Business
  • Watercooler: Raised to the roof

    Q: Over 15 years, I have worked my way up the corporate ladder with the same organization. I have been given a raise every year and excellent reviews, as well as several promotions.

    July 25, 2014

  • Career Coach Q&A: job search follow-up; introverts as leaders

    Starting a business:

    Q: I have a stable job that I don't hate, but I have an idea for starting my own business.

    July 25, 2014

  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

Business Video
Stocks