Reassessing Your Skills During Disability Leave

When you become disabled, it’s natural to worry if you’ll be able to go back to your job. Climbing ladders, kneeling or lifting may be off limits now. You may need to find another job.

It’s easy to think there's no other job you can do. The fact is that most of us have many different talents and skills that we can take to another job. We just have to identify them and put them on paper.

For each job you’ve had, make a list of all of the tasks you performed. Then describe the skills, personality traits and physical requirements you used during each task. (Your previous job description is a good place to start.) For example:

  • Skills: organizing, mentoring, analyzing, communicating, counseling, listening, supervising, typing, computer skills, managing, estimating, ordering, assessing, budgeting, marketing, selling, welding, cutting, sewing, stocking
  • Personality traits: leading, directing, analyzing, using judgment, working independently, influencing, facilitating
  • Physical requirements: the amount of sitting, walking, standing and lifting (usually categorized as sedentary, light, medium, heavy and very heavy)

As you’re doing this, think about how you might use these same skills in a different way.

Take Jim, for example. He’s 48-years old and has been a Master Electrician for 20 years. He injured his knees and is no longer able to climb, kneel or bend his knees, or stand for long periods of time.

Jim loved being an electrician. He wants to keep doing this work. His options are limited due to physical limits. Jim knows many contractors. His knowledge of electrical work in industrial settings is also a strength. He considers his skills. He sees that he has experience in estimating costs, coordinating needed materials and manpower and managing workers. Jim writes a resume emphasizing these skills. After a short work search he is hired as a lead estimator and material coordinator for a large electrical contractor.

Consult with a Vocational Rehabilitation specialist to learn how to transfer your skills to another job that matches your capabilities.

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