Key Skills for First-Time Jobseekers with Learning Disorders

Indiana Lee
5 mins
Indiana Lee

Transforming Challenges into Strengths: Key Skills for First-Time Jobseekers with Learning Disorders

Employment plays a role in maintaining a secure lifestyle and enriching our personal experiences and professional ambitions. One of the great things for many people living with learning disorders today is that there is increasing recognition of how important fostering inclusivity in workplaces is. But what about when you haven’t quite entered the workplace yet?

There are various key skills that can empower people with learning disorders to embark on a successful journey from applying for jobs to thriving in their first professional roles. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Read more about fostering inclusivity at work

Gaining In-Demand Practical Skills

In all likelihood, your career journey has seen you gain specific qualifications and experiences related to your professional goals. You may have already found ways to navigate the challenges of living with a learning disability throughout this. Nevertheless, there are also some key skills that are in demand with employers that are worth focusing on.


Many of today’s workplaces expect a collaborative spirit. This can be challenging for some people living with learning disorders. It may come from the perspective of not feeling as though you can process information as quickly or in the same ways as your colleagues. This can be a confidence knock, and some people find they’re less keen to engage in team experiences.

One approach is to seek out group experiences with people who have diverse skills, challenges, and needs. This might be through organizations at university, hobbies — like sports and role-playing games — and charity projects. The key is to identify specifically the aspects of teamwork you find difficult. From here, you can start to verbalize your challenges with group members and also encourage them to share their own hurdles. These types of discussions transform challenges into strengths through engaging in finding mutually beneficial solutions and a sense of cooperation that will set you up well for the workplace.


Being able to communicate effectively is essential for almost every workplace. However, it’s not unusual for learning disorders to present challenges in this area. It may be conditions like dyslexia that make reading handwritten notes or emails difficult. Some people find conversations challenging due to difficulties with reading non-verbal cues.

One of the keys to developing skills in this area can include seeking out tools related to addressing specific communication challenges. For instance, learning how to make adjustments to the colour of screen backgrounds and adjusting fonts may help you to better understand text communications from co-workers and managers. If you live with an auditory processing disorder, utilizing assistive listening devices or earplugs that reduce noise distortions — like those made by Loop or Flare Audio — can make things easier.

Knowing and Communicating Your Needs

More businesses today are recognizing and taking their duty to provide workers with reasonable accommodations seriously. However, not all employers will automatically understand how best to support you through your challenges. Therefore, a major workplace skill you can develop is clarifying what your needs are and communicating these effectively.

Read more about earplugs for sound sensitivity

Identifying Challenges and Solutions

Having lived with a learning disorder for some time, you may already have a good sense of the types of workplace tasks you find particularly challenging. It’s wise to look through job descriptions of roles you intend to apply for and highlight tasks that could prove difficult. This shouldn’t dissuade you from applying but rather empowers you to make informed decisions.

From here, you can start to identify some of the accommodation requests you can raise with employers. Some of these will be day-to-day operational elements, such as text-to-speech translators to aid reading comprehension. Others will be more industry-specific.

For instance, when working with hazardous equipment or chemicals, people-centric labeling and signage can help create a safer workplace for you. This involves employers ensuring labels have inclusive and accessible designs. For instance, there should be clear printed text, rather than handwritten notes. There should also be culturally relevant symbols and diagrams to assist clarity.

Read more about people-centric labeling solutions

Communicating Needs

Being able to communicate the need for accommodations to potential and current employers can definitely be daunting, but necessary. Remember that according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations throughout the entire job process — from when you first apply to the position to when you are actually on the job.

Referring employers or the human resources (HR) department to this legislation in a meeting can be a good first step. Wherever possible, though, also bring suggestions for the types of tools that can empower you to be a practical, productive, and innovative member of the team.

Read more about accommodations for employees with disabilities

Preparing and Applying for Jobs

Making preparations for applying for a job can be daunting for a lot of people. One of the skills it’s worth building is how to take a strategic approach to applications with mindfulness to your learning disorder.

Digital tools can certainly help when you’re strategizing applying for your first job or internship. Platforms such as LinkedIn and Handshake are often useful for recent university graduates. From here, your resume is one of your most powerful assets for representing yourself. Many graphic design software platforms offer templates for you to fill in your information and present it in a professional-looking way.

You may also find it useful to couple these platforms with assistive apps, like Helperbird that automatically adjust text sizes, contrast, and other components. This can help make job listings, resume writing, and cover letter creation more accessible.

Read more about applying for your first job or internship

Another point of focus is preparing for interviews. It can be good to rehearse how you’ll discuss your learning disorder during the meeting. Aim to provide examples of how you’ve not just overcome challenges but use your unique perspective as a strength. Your resilience and problem-solving abilities make you a valuable asset for any employer, so own your experiences.


By developing a range of key skills, first-time jobseekers with learning disorders can truly thrive in the workplace. Some of these are geared toward day-to-day requirements like teamwork, while others are geared toward leveraging accommodations. Once you’ve been hired, you may also find it positive to share your experiences and solutions with other people. They may benefit from your insights so they can adapt and apply your strategies to their own career paths.

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