How to manage job-seeking with hearing loss
Looking for a new job is an exciting (and nerve-wracking) process. But when you have a hearing loss, you may wonder when you should mention it to a potential employer and how it will affect your search.
Familiarise yourself with the government and community support available to you. You may be eligible for financial support, subsidies and training. There are also programs and services to help you find work. You can find more information at the Department of Human Services website.
When to disclose
There’s no need to say anything about your hearing during the application process unless it directly impacts the role. If that’s the case, it may put you in a stronger position if you tackle it head on. Provide information on how you address your hearing loss in the workplace. Beyond that, the interview is usually the best time to raise the issue. It may come up anyway, because of the format and location of the interview.
Arrange a suitable interview environment
If the employer requests a phone interview and this will be challenging, explain your hearing loss and request a face-to-face meeting instead. At an interview, you may find yourself seated in a position where you can’t hear the interviewer. It might be tempting to try and muddle through out of fear of drawing too much attention to your hearing loss. It’s better to move to a more suitable spot than risk an incorrect answer because you misheard. Besides, job interviews are a daunting enough situation without the added stress of straining to hear what someone is saying.
If you use an interpreter
Try to arrange seating so that you can see all participants, your interpreter and any presentations. It may be useful for you and you interpreter to get any agenda or written materials ahead of the meeting. If the leader reinforces basic communication guidelines, such as only one person speaking at a time, the meeting will run smoother.
Show them what you’ve got
Being open allows a potential employer to ask questions how you would handle different situations in the workplace. They may want to know how you’ll approach conference calls, meetings in noisy locations, or attending training and presentations. You can mention whether you use hearing aids or other devices and discuss how you overcame challenges in previous roles.
Communicate your needs
The interview is also an opportunity to explain how your co-workers can communicate effectively with you. You can overcome challenges they may perceive. You could explain that you send follow-up emails after a phone call to clarify key points, or you prefer co-workers stand in front of you when they speak. Be prepared to talk about what support and funding is available for them and mention your knowledge of what other organisations have done.
Showcase your tech
It’s also helpful if you tell any potential employer about any technology you are using, such as hearing aids, captioning software or amplification devices. Explain what it does and how it fits into the workplace.
Don’t forget the usual rules of job-seeking
Obviously, you need to follow all the usual etiquette of job interviews as well. Be on time, ask questions and show your interest in the position. Research your employer and show why you would be a good fit. Dress appropriately and if you are unsure of what to wear, you’re probably better off overdressing than underdressing.
Remember: you’re an asset to the organisation
If you take the time to think about any concerns an employer might have and provide solutions, it demonstrates what you can bring. It stops your hearing loss becoming the focus for your new employer. Diversity of any kind in an organisation is beneficial. It promotes awareness, customers value it, it increases employee satisfaction and correlates with higher profits.