Organizations that may be able to help:
Employment Webcast for Families, by Sean Roy, Transcen
Facing Job Interviews When You Have Facial Differences, by Kathleen R. Bogart, PhD
Facing Interviewers with Facial Paralysis, by Dr. Tara N. Lewis, and Dr. Kathleen Bogart
Tips for Great Job Interviews by Steven Maldonado
Navigating the twists and turns of the job-hunting process can be pretty daunting for anyone. In instances where you are judged by your appearance from the moment you walk into an interview, having a syndrome where your difference is practically written across your face can be particularly challenging. Individuals with Moebius syndrome, however, are as capable and competent in the workforce as anyone else.
Here are some common questions regarding the job search:
Should I disclose that I have Moebius syndrome?
This can be tricky. Honestly, you should try to read the room during the interview. If you get the feeling that the interviewer is struggling to understand what you are saying, or if you feel like they may be curious, feel free to mention Moebius syndrome. Mentioning Moebius while answering a question about yourself is another option.
Ex. Interviewer: Tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge.
You: Well, I have a condition called Moebius syndrome that limits my facial expressions. I’ve had to learn to adapt and live my life a little
differently, but have still achieved X, Y, and Z.
Will employers totally overlook my qualifications due to Moebius syndrome?
Generally, an employer wants to find quality employees that can add value to their team. Legally, they cannot overlook your qualifications due to Moebius syndrome. This is why it is so important try to feel confident with your job skills and what you can bring to the company when you interview. You want to sell yourself to them. This concern of being overlooked is another example of why it can sometimes be beneficial to disclose that you have Moebius syndrome during your interview.
Ex. Interviewer: What can you offer to our company?
You: Describe your strengths (what skills you have/positive personality traits).
How can I compensate for the lack of facial expressions and/or inability to smile?
First, it’s important to understand that Moebius affects everyone differently, so there is no all-in-one answer. The key here is to figure out how you want to express yourself. In my experience, body languages, vocal inflection, and humor can do wonders for your interview. Bring out that confidence in a way that’s comfortable for you.
Ex. Make sure your handshake is firm and just the right length, and crack an appropriate joke when you meet the hiring manager.
I am very self-conscious about my *appendage(s)* that is affected by Moebius syndrome. What can I wear to my interview that will not draw attention to something I am self-conscious about?
Traditionally, it is important to dress appropriately for your interview. Typically, you should dress in either business casual or business attire, depending on where you are interviewing. In fast food/retail, business casual is appropriate. In a mid-level career job interview, business attire is recommended. As far as wearing attire that will not draw attention to something you are self-conscious about, go for simple.
Ex. If you are self-conscious about your hands/fingers, you can wear something that has long sleeves. This is actually recommended for most interviews, anyway.
I believe I am a strong candidate in job interviews, however, I seem to not be getting any calls back after I interview. What can I do?
First of all, you are not alone in feeling this way. Job hunting is a numbers game. In reality, you’ll probably have to apply to numerous jobs before you find some luck. For those of us with Moebius, we tend to feel like our lack of job prospects can be attributed to us having Moebius. Do not get discouraged if this happens! There are important things you can do after an interview to make yourself stand out. Sending a Thank You Letter, thanking the interviewer for the interview is important. This will keep you fresh in their mind after the interview. Making a follow up call after the interview is also very appropriate. When calling, be sure to speak clearly and tell them your name and that you are calling to check the status of your application and see where you are in the interview process.
Attempting to find a job can be a daunting task for anyone. While having Moebius Syndrome might make the job hunt a little more challenging, there are ways to navigate the journey. Good luck!
Steven Maldonado is a 31 year old male with Moebius syndrome living in Houston, TX. He has a Masters in Business Administration from Texas A&M University. Currently, he serves on the MSF Board of Directors, where he is fulfilling a lifelong goal of helping others with Moebius syndrome. Feel free to reach out to him with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
10 Career Experts Share Their #1 Piece of Job Search Advice
The ADA and Disability Discrimination—An Overview By Roland Bienvenu
Twenty five years ago, President George H. W. Bush signed the landmark Americans With Disabilities ACT (ADA) into law. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and governmental activities. Five federal agencies enforce the provisions of the ADA. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the regulations regarding employment.
Employment issues appear to be of large concern to those of us with Moebius syndrome who are about to enter the workforce (or are already in it). This article will focus on the ADA’s provisions regarding employment. In addition to the ADA, there are other legal protections from discrimination based on disability. For example, Executive Order 11478 prohibits employment discrimination and requires affirmative action on various bases, including disability, by the federal government. Also, some state and local governments have their own anti-discrimination statutes regarding disability.
Employment discrimination is prohibited against “qualified individuals with disabilities.” This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. The important part of this for many of us with Moebius syndrome is that this definition protects individuals who are regarded as having a substantially limiting impairment, even though they may not have such an impairment. For example, this provision would protect a qualified individual with a severe facial difference from being denied employment because an employer feared the “negative reactions” of customers or co-workers, or perhaps regarded this individual as being mentally impaired.
ADA has provisions about employers providing “reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities who either seek employment or may already be employed. A job accommodation is a reasonable adjustment to a job or work environment that makes it possible for an individual with a disability to perform job duties. Accommodations may include specialized equipment, facility modifications, adjustment to work schedule or job duties, as well as a range of other creative solutions. Employers are only required to accommodate a “known” disability of a qualified applicant or employee. This requirement will generally be triggered by a request from an individual with a disability who may be able to suggest an appropriate accommodation.
When applying for employment, you are not required to disclose the fact that you have a disability. It is also a violation of the ADA for an employer to ask you if you have a disability. However, they may ask you if you are able to perform certain essential functions of a job and may even ask you to demonstrate this ability. The scope of the ADA was broadened with the passage of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAA) in 2008. The ADAA overturned a series of Supreme Court decisions that interpreted the ADA in a way that made it difficult to prove that an impairment is a “disability.”
For additional information on the ADA, visit the U. S. Department of Labor website (www.dol.gov) and go to “disability resources.” You can also call the ADA Information Line at 800 514 0301.
Roland Bienvenu retired from the human resources field in 2013 and resides in Sugar Land, Texas, just outside of Houston. He currently serves on the board of the Moebius Syndrome Foundation.