You were offered a job!! what?

This is the last segment of a series on "focusing on helping people with disabilities get a job."

Congratulations, you successfully navigated the interview and have been offered a job!

Wait, what constitutes a job offer?

Great question! This is when things can get sticky. I'm not a lawyer, but when someone says, “we would love to have you work for us”, I think that sounds like a job offer. But it could just be politeness and/or optimism. I find the best way to clarify whether you're being offered a job, is to ask for information about what day you start. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of organizations have a very formal process in which they'll send you (email usually) an official job offer that specifies your title, pay, start date and could also include extensive information about onboarding and/or orientation. But I've recently experienced quite a few exceptions – usually this involves a phone call where the job offer is officially extended to you (but not in writing). But it can happen in person too. And the phrasing they use can be equally confusing (as I said earlier) so, if you're unsure that a statement is an official job offer, ask them to clarify.

How will I know it’s a job offer?

When you get an offer, it should include start date, shift, title, starting pay, and what steps you need to take before arriving at work on Day One.

OK, I have a formal job offer.


I got one too, but it says it's conditional and I have to do a bunch of stuff before its official. What does that mean?

Congrats to you too! Many companies extend a “conditional” or “tentative” offer. Meaning that you'll have to do some thing(s) prior to officially getting a job offer. Maybe you'll be required to give permission for a background check, take a drug test, complete a “fitness for duty” exam or skills test. When you're informed of these steps, you can agree, decline, or ask questions to get clarity prior to agreeing to those “conditional offer requirements”.

So, it’s still not an offer?

Yes and no. They’re saying “we want you to work for us, but we have some legal requirements to ensure you are a good fit””

But I have a disability, what if I don’t pass the tests?

This is another great question! This has been battled in the courts several times (even went to the supreme court). Companies have the rights to determine requirements and therefore you must meet those requirements. The part that gets sticky is when the interaction between you, your disability, and an accommodation to be able to do an essential function of the job.

For instance, if a job requires you to type 60 words per minute. And the typing test is on their computer. But you use assistive technology to use your computer. You'll need to inform them of your need for assistive technology to use the computer, even if you have not informed them of this in the interview. Then you should work with them to determine if a different testing arrangement needs to happen, if you can use your assistive technology on their computer, or if they can use a loan program to “borrow” the assistive technology in order to allow you to complete the test. You don't need to apologize or explain why you've chosen that moment to disclose your need for assistive technology to use a computer. If you need resources for accommodations or disclosure, click here for my recommendations. Regardless of many people’s opinions about “hiding a disability”, it's up to you to decide when you'll do it. However, be prepared that some people are not accustomed to receiving requests related to assistive technology and the newness and uncertainty may cause them some initial reaction (shock, fear, flustering, etc.). Or you may need some other accommodation related to the test. Be polite and agreeable to working with them on how to accommodate their tests. If it seems like no one is sure what to do (or how to do it), you can suggest that the Job Accommodation Network be consulted (its free, they're a neutral third party and have years of experience helping employers with accommodations).

OK, I got through the test and got the job offer!

Congrats!! Now you can either accept or negotiate.

Wait, I can negotiate?

Yes, you can negotiate at any time. However, frame your negotiation appropriately and if asked, be prepared to give reasons for what you're asking. A friend recently got a job offer over the phone as an accountant and accepted it. She was very excited when she got the call. But about 2 hours later, she started thinking about the salary offering. She knew that a few other similar accounting firms were offering $10,000 more. So, she called them back and asked for a higher salary. The agreed to $7,500 more. Later she called again and asked for relocation expenses to be covered. They agreed. So, you can always try to negotiate and ask for more. But you need to know why you are asking for more. Do your research on average compensation and where your skill sets fit within the market. Know what you're worth and what value you bring to the organization.

Sweet! I asked for $2 more per hour, they agreed to $.75 and I accepted!

Congratulations and good luck!

As always, if you disagree with me, or want to comment, please do.

If you are unsure what a person with a disability can do? Take my “Disability Quiz” online

Unsure of what value people with disabilities (as a group) can offer to businesses? Feel free to download my new eBook: Disability Inclusion: A Summary of the Direct and Indirect Benefits)

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