by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A hard of hearing man explained:
I have a Bachelor of Commerce degree and want to work as an accountant. However, no one will hire me as an accountant because of my hearing loss. What jobs are good for hard of hearing people to do? What do I need to do to get hired?
First, my advice is to do what you love doing in spite of your hearing loss. And if that is accounting, then go after such jobs.
You ask an excellent question, “What do I need to do to get hired since I have a hearing loss.
First, put the hearing loss issue aside for the moment. In order to get a job, you need to be the best applicant. That’s it. You get the job because you are the most qualified and have the best “fit” for the position in the company.
Therefore, although you are hard of hearing, you need to do what every other prospective employee does—get the best training, etc. you can, then apply for positions for which you are best fitted.
Second, doing the above may not be enough because your prospective boss may have reservations about hiring you since you have a hearing loss. He’s thinking of the problems your hearing loss may cause and the extra dollars it will cost him to accommodate your needs. In his mind this is a black mark against hiring you.
Therefore, what you need to do is be proactive and demonstrate to him that your hearing loss isn’t an issue because you have already worked out solutions to potential problems. Effectively, you have erased the black mark before it was even made. Now you can compete on a level playing field.
Breaking this down further, when it comes right down to it, you don’t need good hearing in order to put numbers on a piece of paper or computer—you just need training and brains, but you do need “hearing” to be an effective cog in the corporate “machine”. Therefore, think about all the places where you need “hearing”—and then think of ways you can communicate in spite of your poor hearing. Maybe it’s using amplified phones, or using email instead of phoning. If you can’t hear the boss—maybe have him email or IM you instead. In meetings know what assistive devices will help you, that kind of thing.
When a potential employer sees that you have answers already worked out to all the potential problems, and that it won’t cost him an arm and a leg, then he is going to be more inclined to give you the job (if you are the best qualified) as he sees that you are a go getter—you have already planned out how to succeed. (He figures if you are that proactive in one area, you will do the same for him with the job and that counts for some more “brownie points”.)
Employers want to know up front what it is going to “cost” them to hire you. If you show them that the benefits of hiring you outweigh the “costs”, then they are going to be happy to hire you. However, if they see your hearing loss as a “cost” with no compensating benefits, you don’t get the job.
Even little things such as “I’m not easily distracted from my work because I don’t hear all the distracting sounds and people talking around me so I’ll be more productive than hearing people.” or, “I won’t be wasting time standing around the water cooler talking with other employees since I can’t hear them. I’ll be busy working for you instead.” are benefits to the employer.
When an employer sees that your communications plan actually works (because you have successfully demonstrated that in the interview), your hearing loss ceases to be an issue. You are now well on your way to landing your dream position.