By Sam Meredith, Talent Acquisition Manager and Rob Taylor, Human Resources Manager at Enterprise
Being open about a disability with an employer can be a daunting prospect for candidates. Hopefully we can help show you the benefits of making an employer aware of your disability early in the recruitment process and the long-term impact disability confidence has on the candidate, recruiter and the organisation.
The first step in any recruitment process is usually to research the role, as well as the prospective employer to understand the culture, values and working environment.
Most graduate employers are moving beyond compliance and moving towards a progressive, disability-confident culture where they embrace and value an individual’s strengths and experience gained as a result of their disability. Employers are looking for the best and brightest candidates to join and lead the organisation, and are willing to invest in reasonable adjustments to support your development and performance throughout the application process and when you join the workplace.
At Enterprise we have a team of recruiters who are well versed in handling a diverse range of applications. This recruiter will manage your application through the various stages of the recruitment process so you have the opportunity to build a relationship which can then allow you to share your situation as and when you feel comfortable. This can be as early as the application form, which has an optional element to allow you to share your disability.
Hopefully, your research into the prospective employer has provided you with information on the working environment and disability culture at the company and confirmed that it is the type of place you want to work. If so then you should feel confident enough to be open about your disability and be prepared to discuss what you need with the employer right from the word “go”. There are huge benefits to both parties if this is the case.
Firstly, from the candidate’s perspective, you can be yourself through the process and focus on the important parts such as your application, the interview questions, the practical tests, or whatever other components await.
From the point of view of a recruiter, remember that they want the best person for the job, so by informing them early, they are in a position to make any adjustments needed in order to make a fair and accurate assessment of your ability and potential.
In order to obtain the necessary adjustments you require, you are going to have to share personal information at some stage and by doing so sooner rather than later the employer will be prepared and better equipped to support you.
At Enterprise we have partnered with an external company who can ensure that this is the case. They liaise directly with the candidate and can then provide any software, or equipment that we may not have access to. Sometimes there may be no need to use our partner as the adjustment may be non-equipment based, such as providing additional time on a practical test, confirmation of someone else attending with you or even just reassurance regarding accessibility. Each application would be assessed individually and the appropriate adjustments made available.
Although revealing your disability is very much a personal decision, in our experience we find that it is a case of the earlier the better. Very often, initial applications are handled by Human Resources or Talent Acquisition teams who have the experience and knowledge to support candidates through the application process, along with ensuring the process is set up in the most effective way for both candidate and employer.
By revealing your disability later in the process, you may risk ‘surprising’ an interviewer. The interviewer may be distracted by your reveal and be more concerned with accommodating your disability, instead of focusing on the competencies you bring on the day. From a practical perspective, recruiters may not have sufficient time to put in place adjustments you need – this may compromise your ability to excel in the assessment.
We believe that the rewards can be truly felt by both parties if the applicant is open about their disability and the employer has an open and accessible process.
The below example highlights the aforementioned benefits of the applicant making us aware very early in the recruitment process and the strong relationship that was then built with the recruiter who was able to identify talent and channel it in the best direction. The reward for both the company and the individual is an engaged employee succeeding and continuously developing in their role.
Testimonial from one of our employees:
“I feel strongly that Enterprise has opened a door for me and provided me with a fantastic opportunity after I had been left frustrated for several years after leaving university.
Even though I was not successful when I applied for the initial position I was interested in, at the end of the interview I was asked if I would be interested in other positions. I was very pleased when I was then invited to be interviewed for a different role, in another team, which better suited my skill set.
Having been successful at the interview I was in the department for 11 months and felt that I had excellent support from the manager and other staff in the team. I felt that I was treated as a member of the team from the start despite my disability and was encouraged to progress and build my confidence. This was important to me particularly after being left unemployed for several years after experiencing difficulties to get a job or even work experience, despite my qualifications, due to my disability.
With the direct support and assistance of the Human Resources team, I then applied for a promotion within a different department. Happily, I was successful in getting the position and have been particularly grateful for the support that I have received from my current manager and other team members. I feel that my disability is invisible in the work environment at Enterprise.
I have now worked at Enterprise for 18 months and find the company very supportive and it is a very good environment for people with disabilities.
I would also like to add that I feel that I have been given excellent support from the Human Resources Department, from my first contact with Enterprise, and feel that they have played a key role in helping me achieve my goals and I am grateful that they remembered the original application and continued to support me based on my skills and abilities. “