The other week I attended an excellent Equality and Diversity Forum that included a workshop delivered by a final year student on issues that can arise for transgender* students during their time at University. This student’s experience highlighted the stress of telling not only family and friends but also university staff, being concerned how she would be viewed, the difficulties of expressing how she was feeling and the support she would have liked. When asked about applying for jobs, this was seen as yet another hurdle to be taken at a later date. So I thought it might be useful to look at what help is out there, and what are the key issues for transgender students when applying for jobs, the protections you have legally and the choices you have. I have only touched on some issues but there are signposts to further reading and support available. (more…)
Within the careers service we understand just how difficult it can be to embark on your first internship, placement or graduate job. This anxiety can be amplified even further, if you're also worried about having to hide your sexual orientation or gender identity. I often find myself talking to students who aren't sure whether to disclose their sexuality or not. First and foremost, only you can decide whether or not to reveal your sexuality; it’s your personal life, and you have every right to keep it that way if you wish.
The main law relating to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is the Equality Act 2010. It provides the right not to be disadvantaged nor treated badly at work nor in education because of your sexual orientation. Therefore it is worth bearing in mind that you don't have to disclose your sexual orientation at any point during the recruitment process so don't feel like you need to include it in your CV, covering letter or application form. Much the same applies with interviews as with the application process.
You may also want to take your time and research the right employer, an excellent source of information and help when looking for positive employers is Stonewall. You may want to look at the 'Starting Out: Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Careers Guide' and 'The Workplace Equality Index' which Stonewall publishes annually.
You may decide once you're settled in your new place of work that you'd like to be open and share your sexual orientation with your colleagues. Please do take a moment to read this excellent article by the Huffington Post on Coming out of the Closet. If you do decide to share your sexuality, these tips may help:
- Make sure you’re emotionally ready to be known as your genuine self.
- If there are other people “out” in your workplace already, maybe seek their confidential guidance in how they approached their own announcement.
- Know your employer’s diversity policies. Do they have an LGBT group for example? May be worth contacting your HR department.
- Do think about how others at work may react and your emotional response to their reaction.
GUEST BLOG: City Disabilities is a charity set up to provide support and advice for students and professionals with disabilities, as well as employers. Liz Dawes has very kindly written a guest blog post which contains excellent advice on how you discuss your disability at an interview.
For more information about City Disabilities and how they can support you and details of their excellent mentoring programme, please visit their website.
There is no legal obligation to disclose a disability at interview, and many people choose not to. For people whose disability is either obvious, or affects how they do their job, this choice is not available. That being the case, how do you discuss a disability at interview in a positive way, ensuring you are fairly assessed?
Focus on the job
Job adverts come with a person specification. The purpose of an interview is to discover if you fulfil that specification. Like any other candidate, concentrate on showing, through your answers, that you meet the person spec as advertised. If you don’t show how you fulfil the person spec, you won’t be offered the job.
How does your disability impact your work?
If you are going to discuss a disability, keep it in the context of how you will do your job. If you are asked about skills you have that are impacted by your disability, explain this in your reply. So to use a simple example, let’s imagine a person has some hearing loss, and the person spec requires them to use the telephone frequently. When asked about those skills, a candidate can say: “Because I have partial hearing loss, it can be difficult for me to hear conversations over the telephone.” They can then go on to explain what practical solutions will work best for them.
What solutions work for you?
Think through the ways an employer can offer you reasonable adjustments at work, and explain this to them once you have raised your disability. Demonstrate that you have thought through what you need to do at work, and have found solutions to any issues. Consider advances in technology, practical matters of access, and the kind of support you might need. If an employer can see how adjustments can be made, they are more likely to consider you as a candidate. You will also be demonstrating that you are proactive, understand the job requirements, and have a practical approach.
Try not to highlight disability as a big deal if you don’t need to. Put it into the context of the job you are being asked to do, and show how it is a practical issue that can be dealt with. There is no need to give the impression that it is an issue, when it isn’t. Ask yourself: What part of the job does your disability affect, how does it affect it, and how do you propose to overcome this issue? This approach reassures an employer that you have thought about the job, thought about the person spec, are clear how you can fulfil the spec and so do the job, and will be a reliable employee.
Accentuate the positive
Employers often ask questions designed to show a candidates resilience, resourcefulness and dedication. Remember that candidates with disabilities have very often faced more hurdles and shown more determination that non-disabled candidates. Do not be afraid of pointing out the issues you have dealt with while still achieving the academic and personal success that has got you to the interview stage.
Beware of inappropriate reactions
Unfortunately some employers are not as good as they should be on these matters. If you encounter a negative reaction to your discussions, think carefully about the employer. If they see disability as a big issue you may find them hard to work for. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t work there, but if you do not believe the culture of an employer is the best for you, then you may not be happy.
The careers team are mindful this is a really hectic time for a lot of you - some of you may be considering placements, applying for graduate jobs where as some of you may be trying to clarify your thinking about what you want to do. All this can sometimes feel really overwhelming... and more so if you have additional needs arising from disabilities and health conditions. You may be worrying about whether you disclose your disability and how employers may view this in the selection process.
Please let me assure you - there are lots of good, inclusive employers out there who will take on board individual circumstances, and will view your disability positively. My role in the careers service is to support you and I can help you in a number of ways such as:
- discussing when to disclose
- clarifying reasonable adjustments and helping you to explain these to potential employers
- helping you to identify inclusive employers
To book an appointment please contact the Careers Service or email me, Saiyada Fazal, directly at email@example.com. Our conversation is confidential. Do also keep an eye on our events programme; for example next Wednesday, 28th October, City Disabilities will be delivering a webinar on disclosing your disability from 1.15-2.05pm. We also blog useful advice and opportunities so keep checking back.
This morning I came across this article, in which Richard Branson explains why he considers dyslexia his greatest business advantage. He says having dyslexia strengthened his communication skills and credits it with another of his signature management techniques: the habit of always taking notes. He writes in his 2014 book "The Virgin Way" that he learned as a child that if he ever had a chance at remembering anything, he'd need to jot it down. To this day, he says he carries a notebook everywhere.
He goes on to say, "if you are dyslexic, it is important that you do not allow yourself to feel inferior just because you can't spell every word in the dictionary. Vary your activities and interests so that you can uncover your strengths". According to the NHS, approximately 10% of the British population has dyslexia, to some extent, making it one of the most common learning difficulties. Yet students and graduates with dyslexia often worry about informing potential employers of their condition. In a blog post a few months ago, we talked about how you can harness dyslexia to give you an advantage when job hunting.
If you would like to discuss the pros and cons of disclosing dyslexia to potential employers or would like help with any aspect of job hunting, please book a quick query and chat to one of our expert careers advisers.
This afternoon we delivered our first Webinar as part of the Enable Careers Programme. We talked about whether you should disclose your disability, long term health issue or mental condition to an employer.
We understand whether you want to disclose a disability to a potential or current employer can be a difficult decision and is a very real worry for a lot of students looking to enter the workplace . Whilst concerns exist about how disclosing an illness or disability may affect chances of a job offer, the landscape is slowly changing. The Equality Act 2010 seeks to protect candidates as it prevents employers from discriminating on the basis of a disability.
In regards to disclosure, we shared the following advice this afternoon:
- Its your choice: you are under no obligation to disclose! It is your choice and you can chose to disclose when you want (at application stage, before or during an interview, when an offer is made or before starting work). Worth remembering, once you've told an employer about your disability, you’re protected by the Equality Act 2010. This means your employer must take all reasonable steps to provide the necessary adjustments and mustn't discriminate against you because of your disability.
- Be prepared to discuss your disability: once you have disclosed you must be prepared to give the details of your disability and discuss the adjustments you require. Our advice is to be positive and offer employers guidance around the support you need.
- Talk through the pros and cons: if you are unsure, please talk to Saiyada Fazal, our careers adviser who supports disabled students at Bath.
- Be positive: when discussing your disability, emphasise the skills you have gained and ways you manage your disability.
You may want to explore the very comprehensive advice on the Target Jobs website.
According to the NHS, approximately 10% of the British population has dyslexia to some extent, making it one of the most common learning difficulties. Yet students and graduates with dyslexia often worry about informing potential employers of their condition. According to TargetJobs, you are not obliged to disclose dyslexia, especially if you feel it won’t affect your ability to do the job. ‘Disclosure is a personal choice and you have to decide what feels right for you.’ The equal opportunities section of application forms usually asks about ‘a long-term condition that affects you on a day-to-day basis’. If you’re applying for a job where your dyslexia won’t affect your ability to do the tasks every day, you might not feel that it is relevant.
I came across a really good blog post on Graduate Fog: Dyslexic Graduates: 6 job hunting tips you need to know about. The writer acknowledges that “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 adds that “in some cases, having dyslexia can actually be an asset when job hunting – if you handle the situation correctly.”
The author then gives lots of useful advice on playing to your strengths in the job hunting process:
- Be proud: Use experiences of managing dyslexia to demonstrate persistence
- Help yourself: Keep exploring tools that can help you, talk to the Disability Advice Team at Bath for more information.
- Present your disability as a positive: Don’t apologise, talk about your dyslexia with confidence
- Know your rights: check out this super guide which has been produced by the Equality & Human Rights Commission.
- Play to your strengths: For example lots of dyslexics are creative, visual thinkers which are invaluable skills in the workplace.
Scott Bryan shares his personal experience of job hunting with dyslexia and offers some helpful solutions. You may also want to explore the advice and support available through the following organisations:
Disability Rights UK have put together a handy guide for students on how you tell people about your disability. However we understand that disclosing your disability to an employer is a cause for concern for many of our students. It is worth knowing that if you have a disability you are protected by the Equality Act 2010 which states that employers must not treat an applicant less favorably because of their disability. The act also means that applicants can decide whether or not to disclose a disability on application for a job*.
The Careers Service is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, 18th February from 1-1.45pm. This session will provide an opportunity for participants to consider the pro’s and con’s of disclosing a disability to an employer. We will also discuss the different stages of the selection process and provide guidance on when to disclose. The session will conclude with tips and advice so you feel confident discussing your disability. To sign up for webinar, please book through MyFuture.
You may also wish to view this excellent video on disclosure which provides an employers perspective on how they view disabled applicants and employees.
*The exception to this where you must disclose is if the job will involve putting you in situations where your disability could present a risk to the health and safety of you or your colleagues.