Ruth Mayhew reports:
"The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to the reader with a compelling reason why she should review your resume and invite you to interview for the job. A good cover letter contains a concise statement of your education, background, skills and qualifications -- all of which are qualities of interest to recruiters and hiring managers. A disability isn't included in the reasons why you should be interviewed and it shouldn't be a factor in explaining why you're a qualified candidate, unless there is a specific recruitment push for hiring workers with disabilities...Disclosing your disability in your cover letter is up to you. However, even though the ADA is on the books and most employers are careful to avoid engaging in unfair employment practices against applicants and employees with disabilities, it is in your best interest to avoid any explanation of a disability in your cover letter. It can happen that a recruiter doesn't believe you can perform the job functions and will discard your resume in favor of an applicant [who] she believes can do the job better than you, based simply on your sharing that you have a disability...If the job posting specifically encourages individuals with disability to apply, then by all means, explain your disability in the cover letter. Companies that develop creative outreach methods for recruitment purposes sometimes target the disabled workers' community as a group that represents the kind of diversity their organization is seeking. In this case, it's in your best interest to disclose your disability...If you choose to write a cover letter that includes an explanation of your disability, establish a foundation that supports your ability to do the kind of work required in the job posting. Begin your cover letter as you would for any job -- with an introductory paragraph. For example, in your first paragraph of the cover letter, write a couple of sentences that briefly describe your background and why you want to learn more about the job opening...Your disclosure should come after your introduction. In the second paragraph of your letter, explain your professional background and counter your disclosure with concrete and verifiable statements about your ability to perform the job functions. For example, you could write, 'My background in alternative dispute resolution spans more than 15 years. In the first three years of my career, I investigated child welfare claims for the state government. I then obtained certification as a mediator and transitioned into my current role after spending a year with ABC Agency's investigative team, handling discrimination complaints and investigations. In total, I've mediated hundreds of cases and have been successful in performing my duties despite the fact that I am visually impaired.' This kind of description ensures that you are capable of performing the job duties and it also briefly mentions your disability without conveying that it's a crutch or a disabling trait that prevents you from performing your job functions...Since you've already disclosed your disability in the preceding paragraph, there's no reason to mention it again in your final paragraph. Use your final paragraph to restate your interest in the job and tell the reader when you're available for an interview. If you need to determine whether the recruiter's office building has the accommodations you need upon your arrival, such as whether the elevator buttons are Braille-equipped, save that for the conversation when you confirm your interview date and time."
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