Finding and applying for a job
This guide provides information on:
- finding and applying for a job online or in-person
- using a Disability Employment Service provider to find a job
- volunteering as a pathway to finding a job
- finding a job through your networks and connections.
2. Finding and applying for a job
Most job vacancies are now advertised through job search sites.
You can use these sites to search and apply for a job based on your skills, location and preferred working hours.
Examples of general job search sites include:
Examples of job search sites designed to specifically support employment opportunities for people with disability include:
Toozly is Australia’s largest job search website for people with disability. The job search site was created by professionals with over 30 years experience in Disability Employment Services, Business, Human Resources, Psychology, Education and Training.
JobAccess is the national hub for workplace and employment information for people with disability, employers and service providers.
The federal government has a scheme called RecruitAbility which aims to attract applicants with disability to the APS. The scheme allows individuals with disability who apply for vacancies the opportunity to automatically progress to the next stage of recruitment, provided they meet the eligibility and minimum requirements of the role.
When searching the federal government job website, you can select the ‘RecruitAbility’ tickbox to find out which jobs are part of the RecruitAbility scheme.
For more information about the RecruitAbility scheme, visit the Australian Public Service Commission website.
If you are interested in state, territory or local government jobs, you can search the relevant state or territory government job website:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales government
- Northern Territory government
- Queensland government
- South Australian government
- Tasmanian government
- Victorian government
- Western Australian government.
You may also wish to directly approach specific businesses or organisations in person. This can be a good approach if there is a specific shop, store, or business that you are interested in working for, or where the business does not have a website. For example, you might be interested in working at your local newsagency, real estate agent or cafe.
You can visit the business in person, introduce yourself, express your interest in working there and provide them a copy of your resume.
3. Using a Disability Employment Service provider to find a job
You may also choose to engage a Disability Employment Service (DES) provider to find a job.
A DES provider can help people with disability to find a job. They are funded by the government to provide employment support and services to people with disability.
A DES provider will get to know you – your skills, qualifications, experience, and goals – and will connect you with potential employers. They will help you to find a suitable job.
4. Finding a job through volunteering
Volunteering is another approach to finding a paid job. Volunteering is unpaid work for an organisation or business. It is a valuable way to gain work experience in your field of interest.
While volunteering may not always lead to a paid job it can assist as a pathway into employment in other ways:
- it allows you to demonstrate your skills to an employer and build workplace connections, without the stress of formally applying for a job
- an employer may realise how much they have benefited from your contributions, and create a formal role for you to apply for
- an employer might keep you at the top of their list and contact you if a job becomes available later on
- volunteering may help you develop valuable skills that allow you to apply for and secure a job.
If you are volunteering with the aim of securing paid employment with the organisation you are volunteering with, you should communicate this at the beginning. When volunteering it is important that you only contribute as much of your time as you are willing to give. Unfortunately, some organisations may use volunteers in place of paid employees which creates a risk of being exploited.
One of our IncludeAbility Ambassadors, Heidi La Paglia, is currently employed as a Policy Officer who advocates for women’s rights. She describes her experience of volunteering early in her career and how it led to employment opportunities.
Heidi explains that she “spent a lot of time and energy volunteering” and connecting with networks and people within her industry.
“While [my] roles were largely volunteer based (they paid very little), I found that the exposure they gave me to [the] women’s and disability sectors benefited me greatly; and are largely the reason for the employment opportunities I have had since leaving university.”
Heidi La Paglia
Policy Officer, Women with Disability Australia
5. Finding a job through your networks and connections
Many young people—and especially young people with disability—acknowledge the important role which their networks and personal connections play when looking and applying for a job.
A recent Australian survey of young people with disability revealed that 44% of respondents had found their job through some form of personal network, be it word of mouth or family, friends or peers.
Applying for roles and undertaking interviews with people who do not understand the nature of your disability or know about your skills and interests can be difficult. However, family, friends or connections from other parts of your life may be able to provide you with a positive introduction to an organisation they are connected with, or even be in a position to offer you a job themselves.
Consider whether a relative, family friend or someone else you know works in a field or organisation you are interested in. This person might be a sports coach, a music tutor or your local café barista. You could ask this person for:
- information about what it’s like working in their job or at their organisation
- advice on how you could apply for something similar
- an introduction to someone who might be able to offer you some volunteer work as a first step.
The benefit of leveraging your networks is that these people already know you, your strengths, and that your disability is not a barrier to employment. They can be a great asset for building your career.
 Lisa Stafford, Gregory, Marston, Sammy Mitchell, Amanda Beatson, Marianella Chamorro-Koc, Insights into young people with disabilities’ education to work journeys (Submission to Employment Issues paper for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, August 2020), 17-18.
This guide is part of a suite of resources developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission as part of IncludeAbility to assist:
- employers provide meaningful job opportunities to people with disability
- people with disability navigate barriers to employment.
Further resources are available at www.IncludeAbility.gov.au.