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University is an education in the broadest sense. Our University section will enable you to make the most of your time at University and take advantage of all of the opportunities available to you.
Making the most of your time at University
In this section you can find all the advice and guidance you need as you apply for jobs and prepare for interviews.
In the Recruitment section there is a wealth of information about completing applications forms, online tests, and the various stages in the recruitment. Whilst the Disability section provides advice on how to manage your disability during the recruitment process including information on how to inform an employer of what you require and referring to your disability during an interview.
Managing Your Disability
The Organisations section is where you can find out about various organisations, the opportunities they offer and their individual approach to disability.
Profiles / Stories
It’s always great to hear from those who have been successful.
This section profiles many individuals, working across different industries, at various stages of their careers. Their interviews demonstrate that is possible to have a successful career regardless of whether or not you have a disability. They also illustrate the adjustments that can be made in the workplace.
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Steve Bone is a Careers Consultant at Leeds University, he supports students applying for graduate opportunities and advises his careers colleagues on inclusivity. In this blog, he highlights observations of the additional challenges faced by students with disabilities and shares advice on how to overcome these.
When supporting students with a variety of visible and invisible disabilities, what strikes me is that a positive approach to the application process is key. Successful applicants reflect on their ABILITIES and communicate these positively, alongside their disabilities because they want employers to see their potential and be prepared to make reasonable adjustments for them in the workplace.
Applying for a graduate job is challenging because it’s a highly competitive market; have I understated this? For prospective candidates with a disability, it may seem even tougher! But what if this is a matter of mindset? Is there a way to rise above the mental obstacles? I recently met with an undergraduate who had successfully applied for an internship, he had dyslexia but was not aware of it and I wanted to know how he managed this disability throughout the application process.
He revealed that this was achieved through putting in additional hours, resilience, heightened verbal communication skills and problem solving; just the type of skills and attributes graduate employers seek. Upon discovering he had a disability he made the decision to tell the employer and will now have support during his summer internship.
Research thoroughly and you’ll find progressive employers whom you can be open about your disabilities with. Not only are you protected against discrimination by the Equality Act 2010, employers are looking to recruit individuals with diverse skills and experiences, so be sure to provide examples of the abilities you have developed through managing disability.
You should get to know the application process so that any adjustments or support that you require at interview can be requested in advance. Prior to starting, you may also wish to discuss what adjustments are needed at work and how you can seek support from your future colleagues.
How helpful the employer is can be determined by the following:
Choosing the right employer is vital if you are going to be valued for your ability and have a successful career with support when you need it. Consider the employer’s attitude to employing disabled people. Do they make adjustments so candidates can compete equally?
Speaking to people who work for an employer (especially recent graduates) will help you to judge how disabled employees are valued and included. This can be conducted as an informal conversation about diversity, exploring their view on the benefits of a more diverse workforce. Asking broader inclusivity questions (e.g. about gender and ethnicity) will help you to understand the organisational culture and their commitment to inclusivity.
Employer presentations on campus, recruitment fairs and alumni networks (‘The Leeds Network’ at Leeds University) present opportunities to have these conversations. If their customers are diverse, the organisations themselves will be more serious about diversity. Ask to speak to the person responsible for diversity, especially if the contact details are not on their website.
Going beyond diversity, think about whether the employer is right for you, your values, personality and the way in which you work best. Small to medium sized organisations may provide more flexibility in terms of workload as compared with larger corporates, you just need to explore your options and find out what works best for you!
It is your decision whether and when to be open about a disability and a careers adviser can help you to explore the pros and cons, so that you can make that decision. There are some exceptions, for example, if you have a condition like epilepsy that has health and safety implications – beyond these exceptions it is up to you.
A graduate I saw recently was advised by her friend not to be open about her disability on application forms. After numerous unsuccessful applications she decided to ignore this advice and successfully applied and got a great graduate job!
Research complete you can now start writing your application. Written applications come in different formats, generally it is a covering letter and CV or an application form. Here are some general pointers:
Checking before pressing ‘send’ is a must! If you have a disability that affects your written communication skills (spelling and grammar) have your application checked by someone else before sending and use all the resources at your disposal.
This is now a commonly used term associated with being successful in the workplace and you may need more of this than other applicants. Legislation will support your path to employment but you cannot rely solely on it. Be persistent, curious and learn how to articulate your added value, abilities and diversity. In addition, make good use of disability services, your careers service and other support available! Take a look at these useful websites.
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