For many individuals, telling a future employer that you have a disability or long-term health condition is one of the hardest parts of applying for a job and preparing for an interview. However, not informing them may seriously jeopardise your ability to demonstrate your talent and potential for the job. 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.
Why Does An Employer Want To Know?
In the main body of the application form, you are likely to be asked: Please inform us if you have any specific requirements during the recruitment process. The information you provide here will be used to implement the adjustments and support you require.
This is separate to the equal opportunities form where you are asked more directly: do you consider yourself to have a disability? This information is used to monitor the organisation?s demographics and to ensure that their employee base is representative of society.
- Include information about the adjustments you require rather than your actual disability.
- Be open and concise.
- Ask them to contact you to discuss this further if you wish.
When Should You Inform Them?
The various stages when you could inform an employer are as follows:
- Prior to applying. Discussing your requirements at the beginning will reassure you that they can provide what you need.
- On your application form or on your CV. There is likely to be space on the application form for you to add information about your requirements.
- Once you have been 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.
- During the interview. You could bring your disability up during the interview however be aware that this may come as a surprise to the interviewers and may not be the best option.
- Once you have been made a job offer. If you have been made a job offer and are going to need support or adjustments in the workplace, it is advisable to discuss these prior to your start date. This will allow whatever you need to be in place from day one.
- Once you have started. If you require 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.
- Knowing what support you need will help you decide when to inform an employer.
- The more notice you give an employer of your requirements, the easier it will be for them to accommodate them.
- The longer you leave it the harder it may become.
What Should You Tell Them?
Regardless of why you are telling them, you do not have to go into the details of your disability. Rather, focus on your disability within the context of the interview and job and what adjustments you may need.
You can articulate the adjustments you require without going into the details of your disability or condition.
- Do not use complicated medical terminology when talking about your disability.
- Demonstrate that your disability has not limited your personal achievements, study or work performance.
- If you sense the interviewer has any anxieties, create an opportunity to address these.
Who Do You Tell?
- Contact the graduate recruitment team by phone or email as soon as you are invited to an interview.
- If you are not able to find the number on the website, go through the main switchboard.
- Obtain the name and contact details of the person you liaise with for future reference.
The Benefits Of Being Open
The benefits of being open about your disability include:
- Demonstrating your ability for the role. The overriding reason for telling an employer that you have a disability is to obtain the adjustments you require. If you don?t get the adjustments you need, it is less likely that you can show your true potential, and you are less likely to secure a job offer.
- You can be yourself. If you have a disability it makes sense to be open about it since it is part of who you are. Trying to cover it up takes a lot of effort that would be better spent demonstrating your talents and abilities.
- You can draw upon your disability to demonstrate certain competencies. Managing your disability on a day-to-day basis will have developed competencies and strengths that are unique to you.
- You can discuss your disability positively. If you decide to be open about your disability when you are ready to do so, you will have more control over the way it is seen. You will be more confident to use it as an opportunity to describe your disability positively.
- Consider what the personal benefits to you are of being open.
- Think about the positive attributes you have developed as a result of having a disability.
- Being open from the beginning will enable you to talk about who you really are and the strengths that you have developed as a result of your disability.
The Consequences Of Not Being Open
The consequences of not being open about your disability include:
- Lack of adjustments and support. Being open allows an individually tailored support package to be arranged for your interview or job. By not assisting the employer with information about what you need, you are preventing them from successfully evaluating and accommodating you.
- Rejection. Competition for student jobs is very high and every applicant is determined to show the employer why they are the best person to do the job. If you don?t have the support that you require, it is unlikely that you will be able to demonstrate your potential effectively.
If you inform an employer of your disability after you have been rejected, they are under no obligation to re-interview you.
- Stress. The additional stress of trying to hide your disability is likely to negatively impact your performance during the interview.
- A negative impact. Making a late request for adjustments may delay or postpone the interview/assessment causing disruption for both you and the employer. This disruption could have been avoided by being open at the beginning.
- Inability to do your role. If you need adjustments to fulfill the role that you have been recruited to do but haven?t asked for these you won?t be able to do your job. This is unlikely to help you establish a good relationship with your new employer.
- Think through your own needs and the potential consequences to your performance of them not being met.
- Work out how you wish to be open with a potential employer.
- Practice being open with family and friends in order to build your confidence regards this
What Happens To The Information You Provide?
On the application form you will be asked what adjustments you require. The recruitment team use this information to implement your adjustments. It is not passed on to anyone else without your permission.
The information you provide on the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form is totally separate to the interview process. It is not viewed by anyone involved in recruitment.
- Think about who you are happy for your information to be shared with.
- Let your point of contact know who you do and don?t wish your information to be shared with.
- If you are happy for your information to be shared, be specific about what it is you are willing to share.
Steps To Success
- Take control. Decide when you are going to be open so you can do so in the way you wish.
- Be honest. Start your relationship with a potential employer by being open and honest.
- Relevant. Only share what information is relevant; you don?t need to go into all the details of your disability.
- Know your needs. By knowing what you need you can know what to ask for.
- Be positive. Talk about your disability positively by demonstrating the skills and strengths it has enabled you to develop.