When completing a CV or application form exactly the same principles apply for disabled applicants as they do for those without a disability. However, the difference is that you may need to explain certain elements of your application that relate specifically to your disability e.g. a gap in your education, lower academics or a lack of work experience. By being open and honest from the beginning you will find it easier to request any support or adjustments you may need later in the recruitment process.
Accounting For Gaps In Your Education
How you decide to account for the gap in your application is a personal decision - you need to decide how you are most comfortable doing this.
The various ways of accounting for gaps include:
- CVs. You could either provide the information wherever it appears in the chronological order of your CV or include an additional paragraph either at the beginning or end or your CV.
- Application forms. You could either include the information wherever it appears in the chronological order of your work history or under the 'Mitigating Circumstances' or 'Additional Information' sections.
- Covering Letters. If you decide to provide the information in a covering letter keep it short.
- Use the personal statement at the beginning of your CV to explain the gap.
- A short explanation is more than sufficient; do not provided a long and in-depth explanation of what has occurred.
- Be prepared to answer questions about whatever information you include.
When screening your application form, employers will take genuine mitigating circumstances relating to your disability into consideration. However, you need to be very clear that it is due to your disability.
As with Accounting for gaps in your education there are various different stages where you can explain your mitigating circumstances.
- Application forms. If there is a specific space for you to explain any mitigating circumstances it is advisable to use this space.
- CVs. You could either include a paragraph at the beginning or end or your CV or provide relevant information at the appropriate point in the body of the CV; e.g. explain lower academic grades where the grades appear.
- Covering Letters. If you decide to provide the information.
Keep what you say brief and to the point whilst ensuring you provide sufficient information for the employer to understand the situation
- Explain the facts succinctly and ask these to be taken into consideration.
- Provide documental evidence, or offer to provide it if necessary.
- Never use mitigating circumstances inappropriately.
If you have never previously worked, it is only natural that an employer may have concerns about your ability to do so. If you have work experience it will be much easier for you to address your employer's apprehensions.
- Try to gain work experience at every opportunity you have.
- Volunteering is a great way to gain work experience.
- If you don't have work experience, think about how you are going to demonstrate the qualities in other ways.
Highlighting The Positive Aspects Of Your Disability
Drawing on your disability to demonstrate your strengths may be the most effective way of demonstrating what is being assessed. Remember to draw upon a wide variety of examples to answer questions to demonstrate your range of experience.
- Use a variety of different examples to answer questions; do not use disability to answer too many of the questions.
- Highlight the additional strengths you have gained as a result of your disability.
- Don't go for the sympathy vote!
Steps To Success
- Understand your strengths. Highlight the additional strengths you have gained as a result of your disability.
- Think creatively. Think creatively about your skill set and why they make you an asset to an organisation.
- Mitigating circumstances. If you have genuine mitigating circumstances, state them.
- Open discussion. Be prepared to talk about anything you have included on your application form.
- Be positive. See your disability as making your unique. Never go for the sympathy vote.