As the workplace becomes more global, many companies are recognizing the importance of hiring more diverse candidates with disabilities. An American Express Open Forum article noted that in a 2012 study, sixty-three percent of senior executives believed that having diversity and inclusion programs would help them become more competitive by being able to access top talent.
While this is great news for top talent, the question still remains, “How do you actually get recognized as a top diversity hire?” After all, identifying yourself as a diverse candidate can be tricky, especially if it’s not done the right way.
By stating your color, race, disability, or gender right away, you run the risk of being seen as a problem candidate by recruiters, HR professionals, or hiring managers. They may assume you will sue them if you are not hired for the job, or that your diversity is all you have to offer. However, by not showcasing your unique disability, you also run the risk of being completely overlooked for that dream job.
As stated in a Collegetribune.com post, “…When speaking of your identity, you still have to remember the basic rules of job documents: show, don’t tell, eschew adjectives and emotion, focus on professional outcomes not personal process, remain factual and evidence based.”
Using Your Resume and Cover Letter to Identify Diversity
Your resume and cover letter provide you with opportunities to effectively identify yourself as a diversity candidate. Be sure to highlight any academic or professional diversity related connections you have, such as being a member of a minority-related fraternity or sorority, or a member of a professional minority organization. If you were in-charge of any events or committees that focused on diversity, don’t hesitate to include these on your resume, whether they occurred at a previous job or in your community. Hiring managers who are interested in diverse candidates will be looking for this type of involvement on your resume.
Another place you can highlight yourself as a diversity candidate is in your cover letter. Collegetribune.com suggests you include a paragraph or a few lines where you self-identify as a diversity candidate who understands the importance diversity plays in the job or company you applying for, i.e., “As a LGBT engineer, I make it a priority to include a wide range of diverse voices in all my projects.”
You can also bring up diversity in your phone or in-person interview by asking about the company’s commitment to diversity, or by mentioning your own commitment to working for a company who values diversity.
While there are no guarantees that just being a diversity candidate will get you a job, you shouldn’t be afraid to showcase how your diversity can be an asset to your prospective employer, especially if you do it in the right way.