I’ve been thinking lately about the word “disability” and something a friend shared with me a couple of years ago. This friend is the mother of a young man with a disability, and she said that when her son was growing up, they had always used the word “alternability” in their household.

More than just clever wordplay or simply a compassionate gesture, their use of “alternaability” is empowering. It shifts the focus from what can’t be done to what can be done. And no matter what kind of disability we’re facing, what we can do – what we do – is the important thing. This young man is active and involved. He loves, and connects, with people. He’s musical, sincere, and sensitive. His qualities define him.

I’m re-learning what my strengths and skills are. Writing, verbal communication, interpersonal skills, active listening. When partnered with my enthusiasm, these attributes add up to what I can do.

From the many informational interviews I have conducted lately as part of my job search, I’ve learned that one key to utilizing these strengths is not only to believe in them, but to market them. Potential employers need to know what value you will offer to their company. Think about how your skill set not only meets the job requirements, but look for where you offer a skill that adds to your value.

What unique qualities do you have to offer to a potential employer? How can you help them achieve, and surpass, their goals?


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