Helen Cooke, MyPlus Students’ Club Director and Founder, shares her top tips on identifying your strengths and presenting these competencies in an interview
Whether you are putting your CV together or completing application forms, we all have the same goal – to stand out as an exceptional applicant and be invited for an interview. But how do you set yourself apart from other applicants and ensure you catch the eye of the recruiter – for all the right reasons?
Stand Out From The Crowd
This is where you can make your disability work for you and talk about the strengths and skills you have developed as a result of it.
When it comes to disability it’s very easy to think about all the things you cannot do, or that you can no longer do. However, it is time to think about what you can do and what skills, strengths and competencies you do have. We all develop skills as a result of our experiences and this is also true as you have to manage a disability on a day to day basis in a world that isn’t always geared up for it. These are skills that employers are potentially looking for.
If I think about the skills that I have developed as a result of being a wheelchair user these would include:
Determination – to do what I want to do particularly when others are trying to stop me.
Problem solving – to get around daily challenges and obstacles such as lack of access or lifts not working.
Communication – to articulate to others what I need when I can’t do it myself.
Interpersonal skills – to build relationships with others, particularly when I need them to assist me.
You ideally need to identify four or five key skills and for each of these, you need to be able to provide a couple of examples to demonstrate why they are a strength. Ideally, each skill will have been developed by a different experience and you should only aim to have two or three that are related to your disability.
Ensure the strengths that you articulate are relevant to the role you are applying for.
Choose strengths that will enable you to stand out rather than those that just about anybody could claim.
Develop at least one example or ‘story’ to illustrate each of your strengths.
Be accurate and ensure you choose strengths that you actually possess rather than just because it is in the job description.