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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Job-searching when hard of hearing

A reader writes:

I found your article valuable and informative. I'm hard-of-hearing. I hear well with a hearing aid, however, I have difficulty hearing on the phone. I realize that selling yourself to potential employers on the phone is essential to job hunting. I'm intelligent, resourceful, and learn new materials quickly. How do I get around this situation in a cover letter?

I may not be the best person to answer this because, personally, I don't want job applicants to contact me by phone anyway; I much prefer email, as it allows me to respond when it's convenient, rather than having to stop whatever I'm doing to take a call. However, after an applicant's cover letter and resume draws me in, I do usually want to set up a phone interview as a precursor to a longer in-person interview. But if an applicant explained what you explained above, I would be happy to do would what normally be a phone interview in person instead. I would just need you to let me know it was necessary.

So I'd advise simply being straightforward about it toward the end of your cover letter, by including a brief blurb saying something like, "Since I know the next step may be a phone interview, I should mention that I'm hard-of-hearing. I hear well with a hearing aid, but I have difficulty hearing on the phone. This is pretty easy to get around by using free instant relay phone services or simply talking in person, and I've never found it to be much of an obstacle."

This should then be a non-issue; if your resume and cover letter indicated you were a promising candidate, we'd just talk in person next. (If you were a long distance candidate, I'd suggest using an instant relay service instead until we were ready for the formal interview.)

But of course, I don't speak for all hiring managers, so I would also recommend asking organizations like the National Association for the Deaf if there are other things they recommend to people in this situation. I'd also be interested in thoughts from others in the comments section, as I'm sure there are other good ways to handle this as well.


Evil HR Lady said...

Excellent response. Lay your cards up front, emphasizing that the hearing loss isn't a hinderance from doing the job right.

And in today's world, between face to face meetings and e-mail, there is little need for phone calls.

I wish people would stop calling me and just use e-mail.