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Voices Blog

Discovering Employment Services with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

By: Chris Gaspar

There’s an expression that job hunting is often a job in itself. I’ve discovered that this is very true. Just like finding the right job, finding the right type of employment services that fit your needs as a job seeker can be challenging. Sometimes you have to go through more than one employment organization before you find the right one.

In the winter of 2018, after I had finished both college and university, and completed several internships, I had gone through quite a few employment agencies for people with disabilities, before someone finally recommended SCIO.

I was born with mild cerebral palsy. I don’t have a spinal cord injury, but I was told that it didn’t matter, I could still become a client at SCIO as long as I had a physical disability.  I started my intake process with Jenny Gilker, the Employment Information Co-ordinator, and attended a few of her employment workshops.

All clients need to attend at least a few workshops before you can meet with your Employment Counsellor and Job Developer. The workshops cover topics such as resumes and cover letters, accommodations and disclosure, and job search. The sessions were very useful because even though I learned about some of these topics before, you never know when you might need a refresher to remember important tips related to job searching.

I found the accommodations and disclosure to be the most useful workshop for me. Disclosing my disability to employers has always been a tricky thing, especially on job interviews, when a potential employer will meet you for the first time.  People with special needs often have to worry about discrimination.  Should I say something? What if they don’t hire me because of my disability even if I’m qualified for the job?

It was useful to learn that you don’t have to disclose your disability in an interview if you don’t feel like it, and by law, employers are not allowed to ask you about it. That way, you can just focus on your skills and what you bring to the job, which is what you ultimately want to focus on during an interview, just like any other candidate.  The only time you need to say anything is if you require any accommodations at work to make your job easier for you to do, and that usually comes up after you’ve been hired.

After I completed a few workshops, I started working with my Employment Counsellor, Lubna Aslam, and my Job Developer, Errol Cyrus. While working with Lubna and Errol, I started to update my skills on topics such as, strategies on how to job search online, formatting your resume, how to prepare for a job fair and networking.

It has been an interesting experience being a client of SCIO’s Employment Services program, and I look forward to learning more things as I continue to be a client with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.

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