Dear Hiring Manager,
By now, you've probably skimmed over my meticulously-worded resume, and maybe you've even made up your mind as to whether I'm as qualified as the nearly identical resumes of my fellow recent graduates. You may have even Googled me and seen the many blogs I have written about my disability and have formed your opinion on them. As I have been told by many human resources professionals, disability is a subject that can scare many off because of the perception of weakness, inefficiency and need. However, I could create a completely different application package including all of my disability and chronic illness-related skills and accomplishments, one that paints a far more complete picture of my potential as an employee. So, without further ado, here are my disability-related job skills, in cover letter form.
As a seven-year Crohnie (Crohn's Disease patient) and proud member of the disability community, I am used to upholding my responsibilities in a fast-paced and challenging environment. From the time I was diagnosed in high school, I was intent on ensuring that my medical issues did not get in the way of my ambitions, and even completed my academic courses around the time of my diagnosis while completely bedridden. I was able to graduate from college a year early, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, while adapting to a rapidly changing medical situation, including hospitalization for an intestinal blockage during my summer college courses. I am used to operating under pressure, and have gained experience with remembering complicated information while under a number of prescription pain medications. Despite the need for these medications at the time, I completed my coursework ahead of schedule while working part-time and completing three internships. I never let my medical situation hinder my determination to complete my work, once tottering to a class two hours after a minor surgical procedure.
Organization is one of my greatest strengths, and in 2014 alone, I was able to successfully schedule approximately two doctors' appointments a week for five months (most after working hours) while working full-time, coordinating among medical imaging facilities and various specialists and organizing each appointment in a color-coded calendar. This organization and the coordination of my medical team led to the discovery of an infection, and although this was a difficult hurdle to overcome due to the treatments and pain, I upheld my duties at my job and never used my medical situation as an excuse to do less. My other skills include digesting complicated information, including possible treatment routes and unfamiliar medical conditions. Clear communication skills have been essential so that I can advocate for myself when I disagree with a proposed treatment route or procedure. I also have ample experience with multitasking by writing concise correspondence, conducting research and scheduling appointments while receiving IV treatments.
Most importantly, I want these skills to reflect that my disability does not define my usefulness, and my history with chronic illness should only be used to strengthen my accomplishments. Very often, people with disabilities are written off because employers are unsure as to whether they will be able to keep up with the work successfully. A person without a disability is not held up to this same standard of having to prove himself or herself, while a person with a disability is asked to repeatedly prove that their disability will not slow them down. My entire life since the age of 15 has shown that my complicated medical history has never slowed me down, and I am proud to say that I have achieved everything on my resume while dealing with my medical issues. The existence of my Crohn's Disease only bolsters my accomplishments in my eyes, and it should never be used to question whether I am "less than able" to complete the job.
Dear Hiring Manager, I am not my disability, but my disability is a part of me. It causes complications in my life, but the ways in which I have overcome those obstacles should carry more weight than the obstacles themselves. I have been determined and passionate as I have challenged myself to strive for my ambitions, and those are the qualities I can offer you. If you want a determined, passionate, striving and successful individual, please consider hiring me, or any other applicant with a disability.