Talent Knows No Limits
Young man with visual impairment
"It’s disclosure, not confession."

Job Seeker's Toolkit



In this section:

Attention-Getting Resumes

Chronological and Functional Resumes

Cover Letters

Pre-Employment Testing

Interviewing Skills

Interview Accommodations













Here's an article from Fortune magazine called "Should you reveal a disability during the job search?"


Guiding Principles for the Disclosure Process

When an Employer Makes Inappropriate Inquiries

While the ADA clearly states that a potential employer cannot ask questions concerning a person’s disability prior to an offer of employment, this does not necessarily stop employers from making such inquiries, even if inadvertently. How should a job seeker act if an employer asks, "What’s wrong with you?"

A person could rightfully respond, "You can’t ask me that, it’s illegal under the ADA!" This is correct, but might result in the person not being hired.

A better response would be: "Let me tell you all the things I can do!" The person can then go on to describe why s/he is highly qualified for the job.

Obviously if an employer is persistent in asking about a person’s disability, and the person chooses not to disclose, the employer should be gently informed that such inquiries are illegal. It is important that people with disabilities know and exercise their legal rights, but such rights are best used in a proactive way to promote the individual for the position. While people with disabilities should certainly pursue legal action when they have been clearly discriminated against, the ADA should be used more as an education tool, not a sledge hammer: the goal is to get jobs, not file lawsuits. When developing interview strategies, determine the best course of action so that the person not only gets the job, but succeeds on the job.

Disclosure After the Job Offer

After the job offer has been made, the timing of disclosure will depend on the need for accommodations as well as the preferences of the worker. One consideration is whether the information will be better received after the employer has had the opportunity to get to know the employee independent of the disability label. If there is a probationary period for the position, the individual may wish to disclose only after that period ends. Should there be no need for an immediate accommodation, there is no rush and potentially no need to disclose.

Whom to disclose to:

If the person decides to inform the employer, careful consideration should be given to whom the recipient of this information should be, and how much they should be told. Possible recipients include co-workers, supervisors, managers, human resources staff, or an Equal Employment Opportunity officer. Should they all be told or only a few of them? There are very few situations where everyone in the workplace needs to know. Generally, it is best to begin by disclosing only to those who need to know. Many employees opt to tell their supervisor or manager, and/or a human resources representative. They later decide who among their co-workers to tell. This allows relationships to develop prior to disclosure and thus diminishes stigma.

Final Thoughts on Disclosure

There is no one right answer for every situation, and dealing with disclosure requires making the "best guess" concerning the impact a particular situation will have on the hiring decision and the person’s success on the job. The ultimate determinant is the preference of the job seeker, but the pros and cons of pursuing various strategies need to be weighed. Even in cases where some level of disclosure will occur, there is no reason to provide extensive details beyond what is necessary for individuals to have an understanding of the situation.

As Joe Marrone of the Institute for Community Inclusion says, "it’s disclosure, not confession."

Disclosure of A Non-Apparent or Hidden Disability

Some Pros

Some Cons

Rules For A Good Disclosure

Script your disclosure. Write it down and have it critiqued. Run through it with friends who are employers and with other people in the working world.
Rehearse your disclosure script until you feel comfortable and good about it, not only with your lips, but with your body language.
Avoid being too clinical or too detailed. It may be of great interest to you, but the interviewer wants to know only three things:

Remember your script and be positive about your skills and abilities. The more positive you are, the more you will convey that you are you and "just happen to have a disability." Conversely, the more you discuss your disability, the more important it will become in the employer’s mind.

It’s important to strike a balance between addressing your disability positively, versus letting your disability define you.


This information was developed in partnership with the EmployABILITY program of the City of Los Angeles Community Development Department, created in collaboration with the Los Angeles City Workforce Investment Board, to create career empowerment for persons with disabilities.

Employability Partnership       Workforce Investment Board       Work Source California Building Business and Careers