Afford's Employment Guide

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Afford’s guide to





Contents Who are we?


Our Employment Services


Five interview tips for people of all abilities


Resume rules for people with disability


Secret job-hunting strategies for people with disability


Navigating employment with an invisible disability


The top 10 most common interview questions



who are we? Afford stands for Australian Foundation for Disability. We are one of Australia’s longest-serving disability service providers, dedicated to supporting people with disability live an empowered life. We encourage our clients to discover new life experiences, work options and embrace social and balanced lifestyles. Our staff are proud leaders in our fields and consistently deliver enriching services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS.)

SERVICES WE OFFER INCLUDE: Supported Accommodation Day Program


Club Afford

Afford Getaways

Short Term Accommodation

Supported Employment (ADE)

Allied Health

Disability Employment Services (DES)

Support Coordination

chool Leaver Employment Supports S (SLES)




Afford’s employment services include School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES,) Disability Employment Services (DES) and supported employment in Australian Disability Enterprises throughout Sydney. SLES is here to help you transition from school to the workplace and discover the path that’s right for you. Our trainers will introduce you to a world of opportunities through work experience, internship opportunities, industry visits and develop a personalised plan for you. You will strengthen your skills, learn new ones and most importantly, have fun! DES will assist you in finding and keeping a job in the workforce. Our employment consultants can assist you whether you are returning to work or looking for your first role. They will put together an employment pathway plan that will help you find work and support you to achieve your employment goals. For people with disability who need a little bit of extra support on the job, Afford has five Australian Disability Enterprises throughout Sydney. Our locations include, Minchinbury, Ingleburn, Marrickville, Minto and Prestons. In our ADEs, you can find a job to suit your skills in various areas such as packaging, labelling, shrink wrapping, mailing, bundling and so much more.


Five interview tips for PEOPLE OF ALL ABILITIES A job interview can make many people feel anxious or nervous. You may get butterflies in your stomach or have sweaty palms. This is a normal reaction, but we can help you control those feelings and prepare for your first job interview.













1. CHOOSE WHEN TO TALK ABOUT YOUR DISABILITY In Australia, you can choose when to tell an employer about your disability. You could tell them about your disability: • Before the job interview • At the interview • Or when they offer you the role. Always let the company know about your disability if you need help in the workplace or support to attend the interview. You never have to share specific medical or personal information about a disability. 2. FOCUS ON YOUR ABILITIES You can’t spell disability without ability! When managers hire new workers, they don’t just look at practical skills. They also look at your personality and how you communicate with other people. These can include: • Having a friendly attitude • Being on time • Wanting to learn new skills Your skills are something you should write down before your interview so you know what you are good at and can talk about them in your interview. Make sure you explain how you have used those skills in other jobs or at school. Maybe your disability has helped you gain some of these skills? That is something to be proud of, especially in a first interview. 3. MAP OUT HOW YOU WILL GET THERE Part of preparing for an interview is planning how you will get there. Whether you are going with your carer, driving yourself or using public transport you need to know: • Where the interview will be held (the address) • How to get there (car, train, bus) • Is the location accessible and does it meet your needs (ramps, elevator) Knowing this information will help you feel less stressed. Be sure to allow extra time for traffic and delays. Afford’s SLES and DES services offer travel training to help you feel ready to tackle every new adventure. Our Penrith school leavers combined their travel training with a VIP visit at Sydney trains.


4. PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE! Practising interview skills is a fantastic way to prepare for an interview. As a general guide, some common interview tips are: • Walk into the interview with your head up and shoulders back • Let the interviewer lead with handshaking – if they hold out their hand, shake it • Sit where they guide you to sit • Maintain eye contact as best you can • Place your hands in your lap or under the table if you are nervous Monique, who attends Afford’s School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES), has shown the that practising can help you get ready for a job interview. 5. DRESS THE PART The clothes you choose for the interview should be clean, neat and in good condition (no holes or tears.) Do not wear casual clothes like jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. • Men should wear button-up shirts, dress pants and dress shoes • Women can wear a knee length or longer dress or skirt, blouse, or dress pants You should always choose clothes that make you feel confident because when you feel good on the inside, it shows on the outside! Afford’s employment services will have you feeling confident and interview-ready in no time!



Resume rules for PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY Are you straight out of school or entering the workforce for the first time? You might be thinking, “I haven’t had any paid employment” or “do I need to explain my disability?” At Afford, we understand how scary it can be to prepare a resume. Below, we answer some common questions about putting together a resume for the first time. DO I MENTION MY DISABILITY? Before we jump into what to include on your resume, we would like to remind job seekers that you do not have to mention your disability on your resume. It is your choice even at a job interview when you tell the employer. If and when you tell them, you never have to share specific medical or personal information about your disability. Jill Griffin, a Career Strategist with a vestibular disorder, hid her disability from her workplace for six years. When she told her co-workers and managers, it improved her daily life. She now encourages others to share their stories and own their disability. “I started setting healthier work boundaries. I unequivocally prioritized my health. When I was working, I was fully present. Eventually, I transitioned into entrepreneurship, because I knew my skill set could be expertly translated to coaching and helping people working in corporate with their career strategy.” WHERE DO I START? You should make your resume on the computer. We recommend starting with a template to make it easier and look professional. Templates are available on: • Afford template • Google Docs: • • • Microsoft Word • Pages Once you choose a design you like, fill in your information. 10

WHAT DO I INCLUDE? • C orrect contact information (Full name, mobile phone number, email, home address) • Career objective • Education • P aid employment, work experience or volunteering • Extra-curricular activities • Skills, interests, availability (optional) • Referees 1.

Correct contact information Make sure all of your details are up to date so managers can contact you about the job. You should also use (or create) a work email address. That way all your important emails go to one place. Make sure you use your first name and second initial, for example: john.s@ not a fun email like:


Career Objective A great way to introduce yourself on paper is to include a resume objective. This must grab the reader’s attention in 2-3 sentences. It should introduce who you are and why you want to work for the company. An example could be: “I am a recent high school graduate looking for casual employment in hospitality. Completing my year ten work experience at a local café taught me many interpersonal and food preparation skills that I would love to bring to this restaurant.”


Education Most resumes list your high school/s and the years you attended. They can also include other courses or qualifications you have. You can also include any important projects, awards or leadership roles from your time at school. Our SLES trainee, Chloe, would add her cake decorating course in this section of her resume.


Employment, work experience and volunteering If you have paid employment, list the place and the years straight after education. If you haven’t, you can list your work experience and volunteer work. Year ten work experience, helping a family business, or even volunteering at a charity like our Ipswich Day Program clients who assist with Meals on Wheels, can all be listed here. Follow up with one to three dots points or a small paragraph about what you did there. Remember to start these sentences with action words like prepared, wrote, chopped, filed, etc. Use past tense if you no longer work there or present tense if you are still working.



Extra-curricular activities Extra-curricular activities are activities you do at school outside of your regular classes. These can include: • Sports • Musical instruments • Choir • Debate teams These are great to list on a first resume as they show commitment and your personality. It is even better when they relate to the job. For example, if you are applying for a job at the local library, listing that you are part of a school book club is helpful. You may have learnt skills such as communicating with people of different ages and skills.


Skills, interests, availability You can add skills, interests and availability to your resume if you have space and want to show more of your personality. Some skills you may have are: • Team work • Computer skills • Public speaking Some interests you could list are: • Creative writing • Reading • Cooking • Knitting When applying for a job with irregular hours like retail or hospitality, sharing the times you are willing to work can be something that an employer finds useful. You may be able to work be late nights, early mornings, weekends and public holidays.


Referees Who do I put as a referee if I have not had a job before? You may wish to add a sports coach, teacher, church leader, mentor or volunteer manager. Be sure to ask them first and let them know every time you apply for a new job. That way, they can be ready for a reference phone call.

WHAT NOW? It’s time to write! Now that the basics are covered, you can create your first resume and take one step closer to landing your first job. Once you have mastered the traditional resume, consider creating a virtual resume like our SLES trainees. Ervin’s virtual resume actually landed him his first job! 12


Secret job-hunting strategies PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY The process of finding a job can feel hard or stressful. Especially if you think you have tried everything. It might be time to use our secret job-hunting strategies. Read more about different ways to open the door to your next job. USE THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA Thanks to social media, we can connect with more people than ever before. Have you tried: • Joining community Facebook pages for your local area • Following business’ on social media • Joining jobseeker Facebook groups You could also make a post to let family and friends know you are searching for work. Word of mouth is very powerful and other people might lookout for jobs. Did you know 73% of job seekers (aged between 18 and 34) found their last job on social media. CREATE A VIRTUAL RESUME A great way to stand out when applying for jobs is to share a virtual resume. It shows you understand technology and sets you apart from others. A virtual resume can capture your personality and expand on your skills. You can create a virtual resume with the help of SLES and DES teams. Afford’s SLES trainee Ervin created a virtual resume that actually landed him his first job! TRY THE OLD SCHOOL METHOD While technology is great for job-seeking, nothing beats meeting people. So, if you are looking for a local job, we have four easy steps for you. 1. Visit a local place that you would like to work 2. Introduce yourself and ask to speak to the manager 3. I ntroduce yourself to the manager and ask if they are hiring. 4. If they say yes, hand in a paper copy of your resume. 14

It shows you are happy and confident. It is great for people-focused jobs like retail or hospitality, where those skills are very important. Our SLES trainee, Brooklyn, handed in his resume to local supermarkets and enjoyed the experience. Remember to take care of your application - Don’t fold it, wrinkle it or dirty it. Instead, keep it in a folder so it stays tidy and presentable. GIVE THEM THE WOW-FACTOR Another great way to make your application stand out is to show employers what you can do! In the application, include a sample of your work or a link to where they can see it online. If you are applying for a hairdressing role, you may want to include photos of styles or cuts you have perfected. Or, when applying for a photography job, share a link to your website or social media with your best photos. Sharing your talents online can also lead to other unique employment opportunities. Alison Hayes, who has Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) runs the blog and coaching service, Thriving while disabled. She has become a self-employed entrepreneur by sharing her experiences online and assisting others. “In some ways, my blog has been therapeutic in that I often find myself writing about challenging experiences I’ve had, or lessons I learned the hard way. My aim with every blog post is to help my readers get one step closer to living their best possible lives—I want to help everybody move from surviving their disability to thriving with it! It feels good to have this sense of purpose, and with each new client I get to work with, my belief in my own ability to help others is growing.” CONNECT WITH THE EXPERTS Asking for help when you need it, shows strength. In the world of job-hunting, the more help you have, the better. By connecting with a provider like Afford, our School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) or Disability Employment Services (DES) teams will be there to help you every step of the way. They offer support through it all, from identifying strengths, creating a personalised plan and preparing you for interviews. Discover more about Afford’s Employment Services to find the path that’s right for you and give yourself every opportunity to shine.


Navigating employment with AN INVISIBLE DISABILITY Entering the workforce and maintaining employment is a challenge for people of all abilities, but often you face even more hurdles when you have an invisible disability. Fear, stereotypes, misinformation and a lack of everyday kindness all contribute to making people feel uncomfortable or unsafe in their workplaces. However, employees and employers can work together to change the narrative.

JILL’S STORY We spoke to Jill Griffin, Career Strategist & Executive Coach, to learn more about her experience navigating the corporate world while living with a vestibular disorder. The vestibular system processes sensory information that controls balance and eye movements and there are over 25 types of vestibular disorders. Jill hid her disability from her employer for over six years and when she shared her experience, she felt an enormous emotional, spiritual and mental weight lift from her shoulders. “It is a tough decision to choose whether you want to disclose a non-visible disability. In the past, I was fired for my disability so that experience made me not want to disclose it again. However you get to a point in life where you realise there is only me. If I want my needs to be met, I need to be my own hero,” said Jill. INVISIBLE DISABILITIES In Australia, over 4.4 million people are living with disability and it is believed that 90% of those disabilities are invisible. Invisible disabilities can include diabetes, chronic pain, ADHD and epilepsy, to name a few. All invisible conditions present different requirements in the workforce. Maybe you need a flexible schedule, a particular work chair or maybe you need your co-workers not to pass judgement when you park in the accessible parking space even though you don’t use a wheelchair. Deciding which of your needs are most important, then communicating that to your employer can make a world of difference to your experience in the workforce. “Both taking the step [of disclosing your disability] and not taking the step are going to be uncomfortable. But the difference is, disclosing your disability can get you closer to your goal while not disclosing keeps you stagnant,” continued Jill. 16

FINDING COURAGE All around us, people living with invisible disability have achieved their dreams and shared their stories with the world. Morgan Freeman has Fibromyalgia, Venus Williams has Sjogren’s Syndrome and Selena Gomez has Lupus. It is easy to place them on a pedestal but finding the courage to share your story is achievable for everyone. “We find career confidence when we handle a range of experiences that teach us how to handle other experiences. It is the feeling of ‘I have done this before so I can do it again’ however, when we find courage, it is working through a new challenge with the attitude that there is no experience we cannot handle. We should encourage job seekers and employees to be courageous before they are confident,” shared Jill. ACHIEVING CHANGE Most workplaces in Australia have policies and procedures to stop disability discrimination but to truly create a diverse and safe workplace, there needs to be understanding amongst employees. Comments like, “but you don’t look sick,” “we’re all a bit OCD here,” or “wow, you’re always in the bathroom” are harmful. They impose stereotypes, downplay people’s experiences and cause doubt towards invisible disability. “Speaking from my experience, I think an important factor in workplaces is awareness. Making sure leadership teams are trained on invisible and visible disabilities. Employers who want diversity, equity and inclusion also need to be aware that when someone has disability, they often have enormous ability across other areas. It could be their mindset, spirituality or emotional understanding. For me, my disability has given me a lot of empathy,” said Jill. We are proud to employ close to 400 at Afford with disability and help hundreds more find their dream jobs through our School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) and Disability Employment Services (DES). Afford’s Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE’s) throughout Sydney are safe and supportive environments where all supervisors are trained to work with staff of varying skills and abilities. All supported employees also have educational opportunities and can further their skills in the ADE Leadership Program to become production line, team leaders. Find out more information about Afford’s Employment Services if you are ready to take the next step in your journey.


The top 10 most COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS At every job interview, there will be new questions for you to answer. You might be thinking – how can I prepare for this? The good thing is employers use common questions. We have listed the 10 most commonly asked questions and example answers. W hen answering questions with examples and situations, it is helpful to use the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Results. • Situation: Describe the situation - this is the context. • Task: Identify the task you had to complete - this is what you had to do. • Actions: Describe your actions - this is what you did. • Results: Identify the results - these are the outcomes from your actions. Read our examples and practise with your own.



Tell me about yourself.

Example response: As you know from my resume, I'm Hayley and I recently graduated high school. I love baking so I worked at a local Café for my year ten work experience. That made me realise I want to do this for my career. Your response:


Why Should We Hire You?

Example response: I am a hard worker who loves baking and I am also completing my Certificate II in Hospitality at TAFE. I attend classes two days a week, so I am available for the part-time junior baker hours. I also love that your café donates leftover food to the local homeless shelter. I volunteered there last year. Your response:


What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Example response: • S ituation: On a busy day at my old café, I was asked to work the cash register but this is one of my weaknesses. • Task: We were busy and a customer wanted to pay for their meal with a gift card. • Actions: I did not know how to process this so I asked my senior for help. • R esults: We processed it together. When the same thing happened again later in the day, I knew how to process it. Since then, I have had one shift a week on the register and I feel more confident now. Your response:



How do you handle conflict in the workplace?

Example response: • S ituation: At my old café, there was conflict when I was rostered for a shift my boss typically gave to Danielle. • Task: Danielle was angry and accused me of ‘stealing her shift.’ • A ctions: I politely told her that I did not know our manager would roster me that day and suggested that we talk to our manager about taking turns working on Sundays. • Results: We spoke to the manager and everyone was happy with my idea. Your response:


What are your career goals?

Example response: I want to be a shift supervisor. Once I complete my Certificate II in Hospitality, I want to work more hours. That would give me more experience and responsibility. I love to help others and I enjoy working in teams. A supervisor role would be perfect for me. Your response:


Why do you want to work at this company?

Example response: I have wanted to work at this café since I first visited it. I have always had a good experience here as the staff are friendly and kind. I like that the hours for this job are flexible. I also like that the ad says further training is available. In the future, I would like to be a supervisor. Your response:



Why are you leaving your current job?

Example response: I am looking for a job that offers work three days per week. The old café I worked at could only offer me one day per week over the past few months. I want to work more hours to gain more experience and become a supervisor. Your response:


What can you bring to the company?

Example response: I can bring a positive attitude and new ideas to this team. I am a hard worker who is always happy to learn more and help others. I was nominated for three awards in my last job thanks to my personality and skills. Your response:


How do you manage multiple priorities?

Example response: • Situation: When working at the old café, I had to wait tables, clean and put stock away. • Task: I would complete my task based on the time. • Actions: In the morning and afternoon, when it was quiet, I would process stock but at lunchtime, when it is busy, I would wait and clean tables. • Results: I always completed all of my set tasks for the day. Your response:


10. Do you have any questions for us? Example response: - What would my everyday tasks be? - Can I become a supervisor? - Can I have further training? - Will my work days always be the same? Your response:

Be sure to write your answers down and read them aloud. This will help you remember them. We hope you enjoy practising these questions before your interview.



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