By Helen Cooke - Great With Disability Founder and Director.
In my article To Inform Or Not To Inform, I talked about how deciding whether or not to tell a potential employer about your disability is one of the hardest decisions that those with a disability or long-term health condition face.
It’s not just when to tell them that is the difficult decision. It is also deciding what you are actually going to say. Do you tell them the bare minimum or the whole shebang? How much information is too much information?
Many individuals have more than one disability, or it may be a disability that people haven’t heard of. Both this issues raise questions about what you tell an employer.
The simple answer is – only share what is relevant.
When progressing through the recruitment process the reason for being open about your disability is to get the support and / or adjustments that you may need. Provide the information that will enable the employer to understand what you need and why. When I was applying for graduate jobs I had to ensure that there was wheelchair access and an accessible toilet. My succinct openness statement went along the lines of: ‘I am a wheelchair user as a result of a childhood spinal tumor.” Obviously I could have written pages about my situation – but it wasn’t relevant and it wouldn’t have helped them to support me any better than what they did.
When sharing information with an employer, resist the urge to provide too much information and avoid using medical terms / jargon that won’t mean anything to those reading it. Share only what is relevant to obtain what it is you require, and use every day language that people will understand.
- Be clear in your own mind why you are being open; what do you want the employer to do as a result of the information you share?
- Share only what is relevant in terms of gaining the support and / or adjustments you require.
- Avoid the use of ‘medical jargon’; it won’t mean anything to the majority of recruiters.