NEW ADVICE ON CVS, APPLICATIONS AND INTERVIEWS FOR GRADUATES WITH DYSLEXIA
Being a dyslexic graduate can make a tough job market feel even tougher. Graduate applications, CVs, covering letters, assessment days and interviews are all more stressful if words swim on the page in front of you and reading, writing and spelling aren’t your strong suit.
But in some cases, having dyslexia can actually be an asset when job hunting — if you handle the situation correctly. Don’t believe us? Here, careers expert Anne Wilson shares her best tips for dyslexic graduates…
Be proud. “If you’re a dyslexic graduate, be proud of it!” says Anne. “You’re clearly not just intelligent, you’re also persistent. That’s something that employers love — so work it. You can even use your dyslexia as an example of how you tackle problems and overcome challenges. People who aren’t dyslexic will have to think of something else, but your example is probably stronger.”
Help yourself. “It’s important to be objective about your strengths as well as the things you find difficult. In writing applications, use every strategy you’ve learned about what works for you — and keep exploring new tools that can help you, like mind mapping and voice activated software. The best way to check any document is to read it out loud. Also seek help from others with writing your CV and covering letters and in preparing for interviews.”
Chloe, 24, who is training to be a midwife after working in a medical support role after graduating, says: “Don’t hide your dyslexia. Use the interview as an opportunity to show the strategies you’ve used to get round it. It shows that you have initiative and are pro-active about ways to improve.”
Present it as a positive. “It’s entirely your choice whether or not to disclose your dyslexia, but if you do, don’t apologise, do it with confidence. Employers will be impressed that you have taken charge of the situation and are happy to discuss your dyslexia openly. You can even give them the opportunity to ask any questions they have about how your dyslexia impacts your work. They won’t be expecting that, and it demonstrates real confidence and maturity.”
Graduate Leo, 28, who works for a charity, says: “If there’s a timed task as part of the selection process, you normally get extra time if you tell them you’re dyslexic. Dyslexics often have wonderful, creative, out-of-the box ideas but forget that other people sometimes can’t see the thinking which gets them there. Try not to get frustrated if no-one ‘gets’ your genius ideas immediately. Instead, work on explaining the logic behind them.”
Know your rights “In the UK, employers have to make ‘reasonable adjustment’ for people with dyslexia, which means making allowances in selection and interview and providing certain kinds of support in the job (like special software). Of course, some employers may be less understanding. If you meet one, don’t take it personally. But you might want to think hard about whether you really want to work there.”
TO DISCLOSE, OR NOT TO DISCLOSE? There’s a strong case for declaring your dyslexia on your application, but it’s your choice. If you’re not sure, take advice from someone you trust, who understands the culture in your chosen industry.
Play to your strengths “Okay, so you’re not great with words, spelling, sequences and a few other things. But employers are increasingly aware that lots of dyslexics are creative, visual thinkers, with big ideas (Jamie Oliver and Sir Richard Branson haven’t done too badly for themselves). If you feel you’re a creative thinker, make sure you say so — and back it up with examples.”
Keep smiling. “For all jobseekers, confidence is key — but it’s particularly the case for people with dyslexia. Spend time with people who make you feel good — and invest in building your knowledge and contacts in your chosen field. Believe in yourself and what you have to offer, and it will suddenly feel easier to convince an employer.”
AUTHOR BIO: Anne Wilson is an independent careers counsellor and is currently RLF Fellow at Brunel University www.graduatejobmentor.co.uk
*ARE YOU DYSLEXIC?
How is your job hunt going? Do you have any tips or wisdom to share with other dyslexic graduates who are looking for jobs? Tell us about your experiences below…