Finding a job can seem daunting at first, particularly after a long period of not working. But there are resources that you can use to find suitable roles.
Before you start a job search
Before you start searching, think what you want to do and what you do not want to do. This could be specific jobs or just what field or industry you’d like to work in.
Think about whether you have the necessary skills to do the job. It may help to make a list of personal strengths that you can consider when looking at job advertisements.
What hours are you looking to work? Jobs can be full-time (usually 35 to 40 hours a week) or part-time. Some jobs may offer flexible working hours, which can be tailored to your needs and situation. You should also consider whether you are looking for permanent or temporary work.
With a zero-hours contract, an employer does not guarantee to provide work and only pays you for the hours you work. In working out whether a zero-hours contract will affect your eligibility for benefits, you should consider the average number of hours you work per week.
Your job search has a greater chance of success if you create a plan at the start. You should:
identify a few suitable job sites
set aside several hours a day to look for work
set measurable goals such as ‘x number of jobs applied for each week’.
Create a shortlist of jobs that you can apply for. There may be tight deadlines for applying. You can make things less stressful by preparing the following documents and keep them together in a folder on your computer:
your most recent CV (you might create variations for different types of job)
details of your references and referees
a basic cover letter that you can tailor for specific vacancies.
It’s a good idea to make a note of any job websites that you plan to check regularly.
Looking for advertised jobs
Many jobs are advertised publicly and you can usually find these on job websites. These sites are frequently updated so make sure you keep checking back for new jobs.
Popular UK job websites
These are the biggest job websites and they will allow you to search for what you are looking for. Different employers list their vacancies on different sites so it’s a good idea to check several regularly.
As well as searching for jobs with commercial companies, you may wish to look for public sector jobs at places like your local council, libraries, schools or hospitals. Public sector employers often offer flexible working hours.
Some job sites have been designed to help disabled people find a job. Here is a small sample:
Evenbreak matches disabled job seekers with suitable employers.
Disability Jobsite helps disabled people to find work by offering ‘barrier-free’ e-recruitment.
Disabled Workers is a registered charity that supports disabled people looking for work. It lists the latest job opportunities and provides a space where you can showcase your skills online.
If there are any companies that you particularly wish to work for, look for the jobs section of their own websites and check these regularly. This way, you’re less likely to miss an opportunity if it is not advertised widely. You may also find it useful to follow their LinkedIn pages as companies often advertise job vacancies there.
If you’d like to know a little more about a company and other people’s experiences there, visit Glassdoor. This website features reviews, average salaries and interview questions for a variety of roles.
Understanding job adverts
Recruiters use abbreviations to make the most of the limited space in job adverts.
PA Per annum (annual salary)
Hr Hourly rate
FTC Fixed-term contract
OTE On target earnings
Employers positive about disabled people
Look for the 'Disability Confident' symbol on job ads.
Try posting a polite and professional status on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Ask if anyone knows of any opportunities in your area of work if you do not have a job. If you are employed, remember that your employer may see what you post online.
You could also try:
using social network search boxes to find vacancies
liking or following the social pages of companies you’d like to work for and look out for interesting job opportunities
keeping an eye on Twitter hashtags, such as #EngineeringJobs
making sure you update your LinkedIn profile regularly so employers know about your skills and experience
Get in touch with companies that you’d like to work for, even if they’re not advertising. Even if they have no vacancies, they may keep you in mind for the future. Follow these steps:
Identify companies that you are interested in working for. You could use something like Yell to find local businesses.
Search online for the email of the HR department or someone who deals with vacancies. Try looking for website sections like ‘Working for us’ or ‘Jobs’.
Email your CV along with a brief cover letter that outlines who you are, your skills and experience and the kind of work you are looking for.
The response rate to this kind of speculative email is generally low. If you contact lots of companies, the chance of hearing something positive increases.
Registering with agencies
Registering with recruitment agencies can help you find some kinds of work. Some recruitment agencies can help you look for jobs in your local area. Others specialise in certain sectors or types of employment, like graduate jobs or jobs in IT.
Recruiters can help find roles that might be suitable for your experience. They can also put you forward for interviews with their clients, which can save you time. Recruiters are often very busy, and it can be hard to get a personalised service. Some agencies might not have as much understanding about disability at work.
If you decide to try recruiters, be specific about what you are looking for in a job. Search online for agencies in the sector you want to work in or agencies nearby.
If you are worried that an application process might disadvantage you, ask if you can apply in a different way. This could be submitting your application in another format or asking for extra time in assessments.
Email the hiring manager or the HR team. You should be able to find their email addresses on the company’s website. Explain that you wish to make an application for the role. Be positive about the opportunity and tell them what you need so that you can apply in a more accessible way.
Ask for adjustments to the role
You can ask for adjustments to the role before you apply. This could include things like changes to the advertised hours or duties.