It’s illegal for employers to discriminate on the grounds of disability — and they have to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ if you have any extra requirements, either during the job application, recruitment process or in order to do the job itself.
But what does that mean in practical terms for disabled graduates applying for jobs? Should you mention your disability on your CV or graduate job application? Or is it best to leave it to the interview stage? And if you are going to mention it, what exactly should you say?
For many disabled graduates, the answer to the question “Should I mention my disability on my CV?” is murky territory. Coupled with a lurking fear that your condition or health issue could count against you, this can make for an uncomfortable and stressful time.
Our growing collection of articles for graduates with disabilities and other conditions — including dyslexia, Asperger’s and dyspraxia — are among the most-read on Graduate Fog, and the reader comments suggest there is still a great deal of confusion around this complicated question. So, to kick off our new ‘Ask an Employer’ series, we decided to ask employers outright for their opinions and advice…
Nadine says: “At Grant Thornton we take pride in accommodating every applicant and we’re actively trying to improve the diversity of our workforce. There is no one-size-fits-all rule for when to declare your condition, but if you think you are likely to be at a disadvantage during the selection process, then it’s best to let us know as soon as possible, so we can make the necessary adjustments.
“When you do declare, it’s a good idea to be as clear and confident as possible. You may need to help an employer understand your condition before they can work out how best to help you.”
Simon says: “At Mintel we are always looking for the best person for the job – simple as that. If a great candidate needs a few ‘reasonable adjustments’ in order to perform at their best, that’s not a problem. Those needs may arise during the application process, or they may be issues you’d like to tell us about concerning your ability or comfort with the role itself.
“Dyslexia is probably the most common example of this, and most medium or large employers should be able to accommodate this type of thing without too much trouble nowadays. When applying to Mintel, it’s most common for candidates to declare any conditions like dyslexia when they are being asked to perform practical assessments. We always ask candidates what reasonable adjustments they need. Most of the time it is just extra time needed to complete a timed exercise.
“It’s up to you whether, when and how you disclose your disability. However, if there’s something you think we need to know about or you feel you’d like to disclose, from our point of view the best time is either in your application form or when we invite you for interview.
“I can see why many applicants choose to wait until the interview itself to mention their disability for the first time, but it’s actually better that you give us a chance to properly research and prepare for the meeting with you. Also there may be practical considerations, such as arranging wheelchair access.
“It’s also really helpful if you can be as clear as possible about your requirements, and what we can do to help you perform at your best, and whether you would be happy to discuss this further in the interview. Everyone is different so just tell us what you need – and have faith that if you’re the best candidate for the job we happily accommodate any extra requirements.”
Helen says: “Moving from education into employment is a challenging process for anyone — however, it can be even more daunting for those with a disability or long term health condition. For many job-seekers, telling a potential employer is one of the hardest parts of applying for a job and preparing for an interview.
“However, bear in mind that not informing them may seriously jeopardise your ability to demonstrate your talent and potential for the job. It is also worth considering that even if you are successful in getting your dream role without being open about your disability, without the support you require you may find every day a struggle.
“There are a number of opportunities for you to tell an employer that you have a disability or long-term health condition. When you do so is ultimately your choice and will depend on when you feel most confident to do so. This may change over time as you apply for more jobs and work out what you feel most comfortable doing and what works best for you. The various options are:
– Before you apply. Yes, you can call or email the employer even at this early stage, to discuss your requirements. This is can be a particularly good idea for applicants with who do need more complex adjustments or adjustments that will need time to organise.
– On your CV or application form. Particularly with big companies, there is often space on the application form for you to add information about the requirements you will require. At this point is is advisable to just discuss the support you will require during the recruitment process. Once you are successful you can discuss what you will require once you start work.
– When you are invited for an interview. If you choose to inform them at this point, do so as soon as you receive your request to attend the interview. Let them know what support / adjustments you will require during the recruitment process in order that your needs can be catered for.
– During the interview. This may seem like the best opportunity, but be aware that this may come as a surprise to the interviewer(s) and may not be the best option not least that the purpose of the interview is to focus on your ability to do the role and the interviews will wish to focus on assessing you.
– Once you receive a job offer. If you have been made a job offer and are going to need support or adjustments in the workplace, for example software, an ergonomic keyboard, a supportive chair, it’s a good idea discuss these prior to your start date. This will allow whatever you need to be in place from day one.
– When you start the job. If you need very little support or adjustments, there may not be any rush for you to tell your new employer that you have a disability. It is advisable to inform them at some stage however as you may need support or time off in the future.
“As I say, there are no hard-and-fast rules for when you inform an employer about your disability – it really is up to you. However, if you do need support during the recruitment process you will need to inform the employer in order to access this. Failure to do so may result in you being rejected from the process when, had you had the adjustment, you could have been offered the job!”
GRADUATE FOG TIP! For more info and advice on how, when and what to tell employers about your disability or long-term health condition, visit myplusstudentsclub.com
* HOW AND WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO DISCLOSE A DISABILITY?
We’d love to hear from graduates who have mentioned their disability to employers during the application process: why did you decide on that moment, and what happened? And, if employers or recruiters are reading, feel free to chime in too – thanks!