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Mitigating Circumstances: What Are They & How Do Employers View Them?

  February 22, 2016   

By Helen Cooke - Great With Disability Founder and Director.

In same way that may you may need to request support or adjustments to enable you to progress through the recruitment process, you may need to ask the employer to take mitigating circumstances into consideration to ensure that you are even part of the process.

But what is a mitigating circumstance?

How do you know if you have one? And how do employers view them?

In relation to applying for a job, a mitigating circumstance may also be referred to as an extenuating circumstance, or viewed as a justification for not matching the minimum requirements expected by the employer. As someone with a disability you may have a genuine reason which prevented you from, for example, achieving certain UCAS points or gaining relevant work experience. These are termed mitigating circumstances and you may wish an employer to take them into account if you are concerned that you will otherwise be rejected.

However, for some it can seem that stating mitigating circumstances is akin to a ‘sob story’ and will be viewed negatively by an employer. On the contrary, employers recognise that some individuals have very real and genuine reasons why they do not meet the minimum requirements for a role. In these cases, employers are keen to take mitigating circumstances into consideration as they recognise that they may otherwise be rejecting talented individuals.

If you have genuine mitigating circumstances you will need to find a way of informing an employer. An effective way to do this is to write a short paragraph that objectively explains the mitigating circumstance, why it occurred, what has happened since and anything else you could potentially include to demonstrate that your application is worth a second look. You do not want anyone to feel sorry for you; you just wish them to recognise that you are potentially a suitable candidate despite not meeting their minimum requirements.

Top Tips

  • Inform the recruiter of your mitigating circumstances as early in the process as you can to avoid being rejected from the recruitment process.
  • Be very clear that your mitigating circumstances are as a consequence of your disability.
  • Never use mitigating circumstances inappropriately.
  • Even if you do have mitigating circumstances, recognise that you still may be rejected from the recruitment process.