How do I handle disabilities on a resume?

A reader asked me how I would address disabilities on a resume. I wouldn’t address them at all. When you do that, you just create questions as well as possible biases and eliminations.

Remember your resume is a marketing document.

It is not a legal document. Your resume should highlight how you do the job and your successes in doing that job.

Don't put disabilities on a resume

Fill your resume with resume stories and make sure they identify the successes. Examples:

  • Quality Control – Played particular attention to product quality ensuring zero contamination of products in an industrial setting as well as quality control in restaurant environments and when cleaning facilities.
  • Clinical Trials – Drove six successful Independent Initiated Trials (IIT) and $250K medical grants annually in compliance with company and regulatory policies.
  • Sales Growth – Boosted Husqvarna parts orders 60% over the previous year and increased profit margins 10% on all captive parts (items made specifically for use with original equipment) through retail price adjustment.
  • Talent Acquisition Strategy – Designed talent acquisition processes across 14 diverse companies which included comprehensive recruiting strategies to source the best talent and implement an onboarding process to ensure a positive employee experience.

What can the job application ask?

While a job application may ask you if you need special accommodation to do the job as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Congress enacted the ADA Amendments Act to clarify the meaning and interpretation of the ADA definition of “disability” to ensure that the definition of disability would be broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis.

More Specifics about the ADA

The term "qualified individual " means an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires.

The term "reasonable accommodation" may include (A) making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; and

(B) job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

What does this definition of accommodation mean?

When you are applying for a job, your application will ask about accommodation. If you can’t do the job without certain items, then you should explain the disability. If it doesn’t affect you doing the job, you don’t need to explain.

What about ADHD?

The reader who prompted this email asked about ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.) This article “Should I Disclose My ADHD?” speaks to disclosure of ADHD:

Do I tell my employer about my ADD/ADHD?

You want to be successful and know you can do the job. Or perhaps you have been doing the job successfully, but changes occurred, and the question resurfaces.

Unfortunately, there are both advantages and pitfalls to disclosing an ADHD diagnosis.

The Pitfalls of Disclosing: Lack of Awareness and Discrimination

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about ADHD and disclosing your diagnosis may predispose you to judgment grounded in myths and stigma. Employers that are unaware and don’t understand ADHD may be negatively biased.

  • They might be of the misinformed belief that you are unable to do your job because of a mental defect.
  • They may think you use ADHD as an excuse for poor performance.
  • They may feel you were not honest and forthcoming in your interview.
  • Some employers will question the validity of adult ADHD and if it is truly a disability.

Due to this lack of awareness on the employer’s part, disclosing your ADHD might make you vulnerable to discrimination.

Leave out disabilities on a resume

My advice would be to wait until the interview and even then, think carefully. The workplace and job opportunities have changed greatly. With remote work options, for ADHD issues you may be able to use your own accommodations such as headsets, earbuds, white noise machines, and a private workspace as well as technology such as timers, apps, sticky notes, checklists, and calendars.

For job seekers with other disabilities, working from home means you can avoid the pitfalls of travel or falling as well as using some of the same accommodation that I mentioned above to improve efficiency.

In my interactive coaching with clients, we address many issues while writing the resume. If I don’t know something, I have many resources and connections with additional information. Our comprehensive packages prepare you to be confident and successful in the job search. Please contact me to see how I can help you.

How do I handle disabilities on a resume?

Resume Design and Job Seeking Tips

Here are Design Resumes' latest articles on job search, resume design, resume writing, and Linkedin optimization articles I've written.

FREE Resume and Job Search Tips by email

Get free tips and strategy direct to your inbox. just add your name and email below. I respect your privacy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

Here are ways I can help you land your dream job.

You may be halfway across the country or the world. When you work with me, we share coffee, laughs, and concerns. This turns the scary job search into creative, consultative writing and learning sessions.