By Bryony Wills, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers
Often in graduate job adverts, employers will ask applicants to inform the recruiter if they require any reasonable adjustments during the application and assessment process.
There are some questions that students regularly ask me about this, so I thought I would share them.
“What is an adjustment?”
Simply it’s an adjustment to the application or assessment process.
This is vague but I think it is meant to be in order not to be prescriptive – each person will have different needs and therefore what is useful can be hugely varied.
A few examples of adjustments in an application and interview process are:
- Allowing more time or changing the location of a test in order that a disability doesn’t adversely impact a candidate’s performance.
- Removing an aspect of the process which is not accessible.
- Providing a test or information in a different format in order that it is more accessible.
“What is reasonable?”
You may be surprised by the adjustments employers can offer. If you are not sure whether it’s reasonable to ask for something or not, you should ask yourself ‘do I need this in order to demonstrate my potential?’ If you need it rather than simply want it, then it is likely to be reasonable. In any case, you can always ask the employer. If they are unable to provide the adjustment, they might have other ideas that are more manageable for them and work for you.
“What if I don’t know what adjustments I need?”
Ideally you will be able to tell a recruiter in advance what adjustments you need because then they have time to prepare and provide them for you. However, if you have not been in a similar situation before, it can be hard to know what you might need. Having a conversation with the recruiter about what you think you might need for different stages of the application process is a useful first step. It is also worth telling them that you haven’t been in this situation before, so there may be things you haven’t thought of. Explore the employer profiles listed here and you will find recruiter contacts under ‘Disability Support’.
“Will it mean I have an unfair advantage if I ask for a reasonable adjustment?”
The recruiter has the job of designing an application and assessment process to test which applicant has the skills that they need to recruit.
There are many different ways to test for the same skill.
If the way they have thought to test for the skill isn’t accessible for you, or will disadvantage you compared to other applicants, the recruiter can think up another way to test that will be more appropriate for you.
“Do I need to tell them about my disability if I am asking for a reasonable adjustment?”
There are really very few situations when an employer can ask you to inform them about a disability or your medical history. For more information about this, you might find this guide useful:
In all other job applications processes, the reason you would like the adjustment you are requesting is personal and you can share it, or not, as you like. I always ask for materials to be printed out for me before presentations. I can’t read slides easily because I have a Corneal Dystrophy. Sometimes I explain why I need this adjustment, sometimes I don’t.
How an employer is able to accommodate your requests in the application and interview process is a great indicator of what it will be like to work for them. Ideally a relationship with your employer will allow you to be collaborative and creative, thinking of how to ensure that your workplace is most suited to your needs, making reasonable adjustments as you both learn what works best for you. After all, the better you can work, the more they get out of it too!