What Job Hunting Was Like

I know I’ve mentioned all over the place, and a little bit here, about what job hunting as a furtherly (technical term) disabled person was like. I’ve written about how I’m coming to terms with how long I’ve been disabled and what that meant when I didn’t know.


But I never really summarised what it was like this year. Someone asked for examples of looking for work with/after long covid and I got tagged. I thought I’d share it all in one place here for ease of reading and future sharing.



I was caught covid in March 2022 at my local hospital, in the emergency department, due to staff negligence. My job at the uni had wrapped up in January 2022, so when I caught covid I was only a few weeks into a new role. At the time of hiring, everyone was remote. Most people went back to the office part of the time, but I had a lovely direct manager and was able to stay fully remote.


I was really unwell though. I hid how unwell I was. I worked from bed a lot of the time, I only went to my desk for meetings/to be on camera and had to fake well and abled. I didn’t do anything much outside of working and being in bed. It was a struggle.


In late January 2023 the job went under. I had been working on a mega IT project and the project got cancelled. Or paused. They had a lot of spin that I got sick of listening to and I forget which user friendly, PR words they wanted us to use. I tend towards saying the project went under, because it’s not wrong.


I was a full time worker but casual via a labour hire company. That means no redundancy payout. My last day was early February 2023. It was shock to hear my job was just… gone. I burst out crying at my boss when she told me. Not for the loss of the job (it was not a dream job but a perfectly nice job that I was happy to do) but because I was terrified of how hard job hunting would be.


When I worked at the uni, I was part in office and part wfh. This meant that 2023’s job hunting was the first time I was job hunting as someone who could no longer fake abled. I used to be able to show up for interviews in person.  I used to be able to do 2 days a week on site (in an office). These are no longer things I can do. 


The difference between February 2022 and 2023 was a chasm. There was still lots of (kind of) public health encouraged work from home in Feb 2023. There was none at all in 2023.


Side Note

This came up in my Facebook memories recently and I want to retype it here as its relevant. I can’t remember what year it was from but I’m going to guess 2020 or 2021 from context of “that’s when we still did lockdowns”?

I know some people like that NSW doesn’t do lockdowns, and my personal dislike of their Premier aside, what I wish people understood about the value of lockdowns is that protects at risk people. If the government says it’s safe, the at risk people don’t get accomodations they need e.g. WFH. You’re seen as expecting too much or not worth accomodating or an outlier. It makes the accomodations “unreasonable” because it’s only you that needs it. I’ll take short lockdowns all the way instead of “fuck the high risk people”.

Now, I’m not saying lockdowns should happen forever. They had a place and time where they were appropriate. Lots of things about them could have been done better (supporting humans, mostly).

What this memory brings up is that reasonable is always decided by the abled, who have ZERO skills or knowledge on what the disabled need, and the influence that public health has on “reasonable”.


Job Hunting

The biggest challenge I faced, and I mention it in this post, is that no one could (would?) understand the difference between working from home as a disability accomodation and as a workplace flexibility option. That is what screwed me over. I am mostly housebound with debilitating physical fatigue. I can get out a little, but that’s saved for trips to the doctor, pharmacy, and life necessities. Commuting and sitting all day in an office is not a physical option for me.


The other challenge (also in the post linked above) was that there is no way to tell from the outside if a company will accomodate people or will hate your guts for being disabled. I really need to know up front if you’re going to be an asshole to me, so that it saves me time in not applying to work for you.


It’s not polite to fake interest in a disabled person and waste their time. I’d rather know up front. It’s wrong, but fuck it. Put “no disabled people” on your job ad and don’t make me waste my time. I have limited energy. Fatigue has ruined my life. I don’t have time to play pathetic corporate games.


Please note: some people get weirdly angry at me for talking about full work from home. I do office type work. White collar stuff. It can be done entirely from home. In lockdown era I was in the “hey, take your laptop home overnight just in case we get put in lockdown, that way we can keep working” group of people. There was NO GENUINE REASON why it should be hard for me to get a job. 


I’m a competitive candidate for jobs relevant to me. People read my resume and want me. This turned out to be quite negative. Initially I didn’t disclose my accomodation requirements in an obvious manner. They were there, but you had to actually read my cover letter. Then I ended up having to “explain myself” on multiple phone calls when people wanted me to show up to interviews and all kinds of things that I couldn’t do.


My cover letter had information in it from the very start. It said: “Please note that as a person with a disability, I require accomodations during recruitment and employment.”


I wanted fewer phone calls where I had to “explain myself” so I added details to my resume. Directly above my most recent job, I had a line in bold text that said “Workplace Accomodation Requirements”. Underneath that it said “Due to long covid, I must work 100% from home/remotely”.


I chose this level of disclosure due to wanting to reduce how often I had to talk about disability on the phone. The idea was that ableist recruiters and companies would self-select out of my life, thereby reducing my stress levels in an already stressful time.


Turns out no one reads resumes and they blame the candidate for that.


Every weekday, I would get phone calls from people interested in me and when I reminded them that I need full work from home I would get this TONE. The way they said “Oh” is what broke me. Hearing this day in and day out for the fourteen weeks it took me to get a job broke me. The tone was that I was letting them down. That I was lesser.


Sometimes they would read it and call me anyway, assuming it was old information and no longer true. I think that is a flying load of crap and they wanted me to perform abled and show up to a workplace, my health be damned. Some saw WFH on my resume and called me just to tell me off for saying that I needed that. How dare I!?


I had a great job offer with the Queensland Government. They didn’t read that I had accomodation needs but when they offered me the job they said they work really flexibly and it wouldn’t be a problem. Then the job offer got rescinded. But hey, they’re an equal opportunity employer! Over $100k/yr job, gone. 


Mental Health

It took fourteen weeks of job hunting to find a new job. I am really damaged from everything I went through. I do not trust anyone anymore. I hope that once fourteen weeks have passed on the other side of getting a job my brain will have retrained itself out of this mode. 


What other impacts did it have? I had deep sinking feelings in my stomach every time my phone rang. I knew people wanted to hire me, but not on my terms. The microagression of hearing that “OH” I spoke about above wore me down. It’s small, but so are things like erosion, and you can visibly see the long term effects that has on the environment.


The phone calls were much the same. I got tired of having my time wasted. I wanted to interrupt at the start of every call and say “Look, I’m tired, did you read the part that says WFH?” so that I wasn’t dragged into a 20-30 minute long spiel before finding out they “couldn’t” hire me because “on site culture” (which turned out to be social clubs, something I didn’t enjoy participating in when I was more abled anyway). But society deems disabled people standing up for themselves as rude. And job seekers are lower on the power structure. So I felt I couldn’t say it and had to wade through them wasting my spoons. 


My Future

I have a part time, fully remote job that goes until the end of 2024. It’s socially funded under a grant, so the pay is not great. It covers rent and food/medication, not other bills. I still have to freelance and subcontract. I am very happy to be working on what I do, and while it’s not sharable right now, when things are public and/or it’s an appropriate time to share it, I will. I have been developing my business side, Normal Systems. There’s still things like books and journals for sale here, I still have book coaching and some courses under development.


The TL;DR is that the only future I can see is working for myself, and that the work is fully asynchronous so that I can work with my body, not show up for performative specific hours of work, regardless of outcome. If you’re a chronically ill business owner, come and join my chronic business club, where I talk about what I did/how I managed that week. It’s currently free, I’m not sure if it will be paid in the future (depends what direction I want to take it). 


Two Significant Thoughts From Others That Are Influencing Me Recently


Tweet reads: 

If my work capacity is 3-4 hours per week (due to disability), this is my equivalent of working full-time. This is exhausting and hard work for me. With this amount of work, I have very limited leisure time. So why shouldn’t I be paid a full-time wage? Why shouldn’t everyone?

And this quote from this article:

“The only way to escape erasure or institutional control under our present system is to have enough wealth to transform from mere patient into coveted consumer”


This brings to me to needing to earn a lot of money in not many hours per week, due to disability. I hate saying this out loud, I really do. Because to me it conjures up exploitative outsourcing of the work, along the lines of the 4 hour work week. And that’s not me. I want to do it ethically. 



I’m going to keep adding things to this post – as I find relevant articles or people ask me questions. 


Update 11th June 2023:

I came across two things this morning.


A tweet that says "Hell hath no fury like an "ally" corrected".


The tweet by user Mars Fae says “Hell hath no fury like an “ally” corrected.”


I can’t help but wonder if this explains some of the nastiness I’ve experienced this year, primarily when job hunting. Everyone thinks they wouldn’t discriminate against disabled people, especially at work, but then I come along and make them feel all uncomfortable (or I outright tell them their behaviour/words are discriminatory) so they attack me because I’m reminding them they’re a bad person. 


And then there is the below quote from this article:

It’s becoming harder to tell if businesses are embracing diversity or merely portraying themselves to be more inclusive than they are.

This is so validating I want to cry. If you haven’t read this post of mine, I posted something on this topic when I first started speaking up:

The problem is, everyone has anti discrimination policies, but they don’t apply them in reality. As a disabled job seeker, this makes it practically impossible to identify which jobs to apply for/where to spend my energy.


Feel free to ask questions about this experience. I don’t know who else is talking about this openly, so if there’s something I can answer or I left out… hit me up and if I have an answer I can share… I will. 



3 Replies to “What Job Hunting Was Like”

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  2. […] time isn’t paying my bills though. As I say at the end of this post, the only long term way forward I can see for myself is to remove myself from broken systems. I […]

  3. […] back onto the job market at the end of 2024. I know I will be exposed to all the microaggressions again (and again). I will be expected to smile through it, to not make a fuss, and to be a compliant […]

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