|Get That Job - based on text by Jean Brading|
Section 1: Look at yourself
Section 2: Matching yourself with potential jobs
Section 3: Legislation and your rights
Section 4: To disclose or not to disclose
Section 5: Finding jobs to apply for
Section 6: Marketing yourself and closing the sale
Appendices: Model CV
Model covering letter
Web-based job sites
Skill is extremely grateful to the Allied Dunbar Foundation, Department for Education and Employment, Midland Bank plc and John Lewis Partnership for financially supporting the production of this document.
Skill would also like to thank all the members of the Disability Sub-Committee of AGCAS, particularly Anne Dutton, Caroline Harvey and Hillary Whorral, for their assistance.
Are you looking for a job?
Are you soon to leave school, college or university?
Do you have a disability?
If youve answered yes to these three questions, then read on. This article will guide you through the basics of how to get a job. Youll also find solutions to problems that may concern you as a disabled job seeker. Section 1 helps you understand yourself in terms of the things you like to do, are good at doing and what you expect to get out of a job. Without this understanding, you wont be able to find the right job. Section 2 suggests resources to help you match your interests, aptitudes and objectives with certain kinds of jobs. It will move you towards identifying the job that suits you best. Section 3 tackles issues important for disabled job seekers regarding current employment legislation and rights. Section 4 gives advice about applying for jobs specifically as a disabled person, with emphasis on one of the most troubling issues for disabled people: when and whether to disclose their disabilities. By the time youve reached Section 5, youre ready to begin job hunting. This Section lists a number of job vacancy sources. Section 6 is about action, including tips on applying for jobs and interviews. After Section 6 and a short conclusion, youll find a model CV and covering letter, lists of helpful contacts, Internet job databases and other books you might consider reading.
Section 1: Look at yourself
Who are you?
This question may seem hopelessly general and unrelated to finding a job, but it isnt. Answering the question who am I? must be the first task of everyone looking for work. Unless you know yourself, you wont know what kind of job best suits you. And if you dont know that, you wont know what kind of jobs to look for. Begin by considering:
1 - Interests: what do you like doing?
2 - Aptitudes: what are you good at doing?
3 - Objectives: what do you want from a job?
1 - Interests:
We all think we know what kinds of tasks we enjoy, but in fact most people are unsure about what they really like doing. This may explain why so many people end up in jobs they dont like. So, spend a few minutes analysing your interests by answering the following questions.
In school/college/university, what subjects did you like least? Why?
In school/college/university, what subjects did you like most? Why?
What are your hobbies/extra-curricular activities?
Why do you like these hobbies/extra-curricular activities?
If youve worked (paid or unpaid) before, what parts of your job did you like most? Why?
If youve worked (paid or unpaid), what parts of your job did you like least? Why?
2 - Aptitudes:
To understand what youre good at your aptitudes spend a few minutes answering the following questions about some of your experiences.
In school/college/university, what subjects were you best at? Why?
In school/college/university, what subjects did you struggle with? Why?
If youve worked (paid or unpaid) before, what parts of your job did excel at? Why?
If youve worked (paid or unpaid), what parts of your job did you not complete well? Why?
3 - Objectives
Now that youve thought about your interests and aptitudes, its time to think about your career objectives. What do you want from a job? Try this exercise as a way of finding out your most important career objectives. Give each of the following statements a score out of 10, where 1 is not important at all and 10 is extremely important.
How important is it that your work:
1 - Allows the completion of one project before moving on to another.
2 - Offers steady employment and security.
3 - Provides recognition and prestige.
4 - Provides high financial rewards.
6 - Benefits the community or provides a service to others.
7 - Gives opportunities to use your initiative.
8 - Involves working with others.
9 - Provides opportunities to lead and direct other people.
Now identify which statement youve given the highest score and rank that statement 1, find the statement with the next highest score and rank that statement 2, and so on. The order in which you rank these objectives indicates the kinds of rewards you want from a job. Youll probably not find a job that matches all of your objectives in the order youve ranked them, at least not right away. But you should at least be clearer now about which objectives matter most to you. Some objectives will likely be mutually exclusive. If you seek high financial rewards, for example, you may struggle to find a job that will also benefit the community or provide a service to others.
You will learn more about which objectives can be found in which jobs after some research (see Section 2). Putting interests, aptitudes and objectives together In all likelihood youve found that most of your interests and aptitudes overlap. For the purposes of getting a job, youll need to focus on these overlaps. Employers will only be interested in employing you if you have something to offer them. Interest without aptitude will usually not suffice. Adding your objectives completes the picture. Youll need to keep in mind your objectives when you consider the kinds of jobs you might apply for. This will be explained more in the next Section. Hopefully, youre starting to recognise some patterns.
Perhaps you like history, excel at writing essays and your number one career objective is achieving recognition and prestige. Do you know other people who match this pattern? What do they do for a living? In the next Section are suggestions on how you make these connections clearer for yourself. In very general terms, youve successfully painted a useful picture of yourself. Believe it or not, youre already ahead of most job seekers who flounder because they dont even have a basic understanding of themselves.
Of course learning about yourself your interests, aptitudes and objectives is an on-going process. Its more complicated than answering a few questions. The purpose of this Section has been to introduce you to the sorts of things you need to think about. Before going any further, seek more detailed advice so you can develop a more complete picture of yourself. The work youve done here will make this a lot easier. Visit your careers service. Explain that youve begun thinking about your interests, aptitudes and objectives in relation to finding a job. Then ask for more detailed self-assessment exercises. You dont have to spend years analysing yourself, but a little more effort will be helpful at this stage. Again, the more you know about yourself, the easier it will be for you to find the right job.
To get a job begin by getting to know yourself. Knowing yourself involves analysing your interests, aptitudes and objectives. Put your interests, aptitudes and objectives together and look for a pattern. Visit your careers service for more detailed advice.
Section 2: Matching yourself with potential jobs
Youve identified what you like doing, what youre good at and what your objectives are. The next step is to match these to the job market. Which jobs are you suited for? This Section suggests a few ways to answer this question.
Careers advisers can not only help you better understand your interests, aptitudes and objectives, they can also advise you on the sorts of work you are best suited for. They can then supply you with information about specific types of jobs that you can read about to see if they appeal to you.
Dont underestimate the amount of help careers advisers can offer. They have practical experience helping people in exactly your position. Beyond one-to-one help, careers services also have libraries stocked with invaluable research material and summary information on different careers, which you can take away to read on your own.
Job Descriptions from Advertisements
Employment advertisements are an excellent source of information. Often, advertisements describe the sorts of people who should apply explicitly in terms of interests, aptitudes and objectives. Read through employment advertisements in local, national and trade publications to get a feel for what jobs are out there. Your careers adviser will be able to point you towards those publications most useful for you.
Remember, at this stage youre not looking for jobs to actually apply for. Youre only looking for types of jobs that might suit you.
Talk to everyone
Think of all the people you know who have jobs: teachers and lecturers, coaches, shopkeepers, your parents and their friends, your friends and siblings. Ask them about their work and about themselves (in terms of their interests, aptitudes and career objectives). Youll learn about different kinds of jobs and how certain personal characteristics match certain kinds of jobs. Youll also let people know that youre looking for work. Its amazing how a word said to the right person at the right time can lead to something positive.
Dont feel shy about talking with people about themselves and their work. Most people will be flattered by your interest.
Ask a careers adviser for specific information about which types of jobs might suit you
Read employment advertisements to learn more about possible careers.
Ask everyone you know to help you understand more about the job market.
Section 3: Legislation and your rights
Many employers recognise that to achieve the most from their recruitment activities they must cast their nets as widely as possible. This is excellent news for disabled people who have in the past been sidelined.
Backing up this more inclusive approach is the law. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), introduced in 1995, has pushed employers into action. The DDA gives disabled people new rights in many areas. If you want more detailed information on the DDA than is given here, contact Skill: [email protected].
Are you disabled according to the DDA?
The DDA says youre disabled if you have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This definition includes sensory impairments, learning disabilities and mental illness as well as physical disabilities and medical conditions. You dont have to register as a disabled person to be defined as disabled.
Employment and the DDA
The DDA aims to stop discrimination against disabled people in work and when applying for work. It doesnt apply to employers of fewer than 15 people or to those employing workers on ships or aircraft. The armed forces, police, fire fighting service and prison service are also excluded from the DDAs provisions.
Most of the bigger organisations are aware of their legal obligations under the DDA and want to avoid being taken to an employment tribunal by an aggrieved disabled employee or applicant. Accordingly, a lot has been done recently to make recruitment and selection fairer for disabled people.
The DDA in Practice
The DDA makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a disabled job seeker or employee. The DDA defines discrimination in two ways:
1 If because of a persons disability the employer treats him or her less favourably and the employer cannot show this treatment is justified, or
2 If the employer doesnt make reasonable adjustments to prevent such unfavourable treatment and cannot show this is justified.
The concept of reasonable adjustment is key. The DDA says that reasonable adjustment applies to any physical features of premises occupied by the employer or any arrangements made on behalf of the employer which may put a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage. Exactly what reasonable means is open to interpretation. That being said, interpretation of the DDA is becoming increasingly clarified as its provisions are tested in law and practice.
If you feel youre not getting anywhere in your job search, its easy to fall into the trap of believing that its because of your disability. It may be, but it may not be. Its difficult to tell. Talk to your careers adviser to get a second opinion. In the case of a definite case of unfair treatment, document everything and get in touch with Skill. You may also try ringing the DDA Helpline and the Disability Law Service (contact information for both is at the back of the book).
As of March 1999, 4,231 cases under the DDA have been brought to employment tribunals. Of these, 70 have been decided in favour of the aggrieved disabled people, 301 in favour of the employer and 1275 have been settled or withdrawn before the tribunal reached its decision.
Other things to help you
Employers who use the Employment Services two ticks symbol in their corporate literature are publicly announcing their commitment to taking positive measures to attract disabled applicants. There are five parts to this commitment:
1: A guaranteed job interview: to interview all disabled applicants meeting minimum criteria for job vacancies and to consider these applicants on their abilities.
2: Consulting disabled employees: to make sure that the most is being made of their abilities.
3: Keeping employees if they become disabled: to make every effort to retain employees if they become disabled.
4: Improving knowledge: to ensure that key employees develop the awareness of disability needed to make these commitments work.
5: Checking progress and planning ahead: to annually review these commitments and what has been achieved, plan ways to improve them and let all their employees know about progress and future plans.
If you see the two ticks symbol on a companys job advertisements or recruitment literature, you can be fairly certain that it is taking a proactive approach to employing disabled people.
Another way you can discern which companies are likely to view disabled people equally is to check if they are members of the Employers Forum on Disability (EFD). The EFD has hundreds of corporate members. Its purpose is to improve the job prospects of disabled people by making it easier for employers to recruit, retain and develop disabled employees. Membership of the EFD indicates companies positive attitude towards disabled people.
Any further information you can glean from brochures, advertisements and annual reports about a particular organisations culture as well as its initiatives in areas such as tele-working, career breaks, paternity leave and job sharing, can be extremely valuable. Attitudes to diversity and equal opportunities obviously stretch much wider than disability. If a company seems open and flexible in all these ways, then its reasonable to assume that disability wont be an issue either. Check also that their equal opportunities statements cover disability. Most companies will be happy to give you copies of their equal opportunities policies upon request.
The Disability Discrimination Act protects most disabled job seekers and employees.
While many employers recognise their obligation to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, some dont.
Some employers advertise their commitment to equal opportunities for disabled people with the Employment Services two ticks symbol.
Employers attitudes towards disabled people can be inferred from their published equal opportunities policies.
Section 4: Disclose or not to disclose
Looking for work is rarely easy for anyone. Because you have a disability, you may encounter obstacles that other job seekers dont. Of these obstacles, perhaps the most awkward has to do with disclosure: when or whether to tell a prospective employer youre disabled.
To help you know when or whether to disclose your disability, consider the following reasons for and against disclosing. If in doubt, seek advice from a careers adviser or from the Disability Employment Adviser at your local Jobcentre. Both can help you sort through the implications of disclosure.
Reasons for disclosure
1: As discussed in Section 3, employment is covered by the DDA. If you declare your disability and feel that youve been discriminated against during the application process, you can take your concern to an employment tribunal. More importantly, by disclosing your disability the company to which youve applied for a job cannot reject your application because youre disabled if a reasonable adjustment can be made to accommodate you. For example, if specialist computer equipment allows you to overcome the effects of your disability, it would be unreasonable for the employer not to consider your application. Employers cant make reasonable adjustments if they dont know youre disabled.
2: Disclosing your disability may not adversely affect your chance of getting the job youve applied for. Many employers have equal opportunities policies that indicate their openness to recruiting and employing without prejudice. You can ask to see a companys equal opportunities policy and how this policy affects the companys recruiting practice. As discussed in Section 3, many employers use the Employment Services two ticks symbol to advertise their commitment to consider disabled applicants without prejudice. Membership of the EFD also indicates a similar commitment.
3: You can control the way your disability is explained to a prospective employer. Its a question of emphasis. For example, rather than telling a prospective employer I have a hearing impairment which has caused me difficulties, you could say: Because of my hearing impairment, I have developed a superior ability to concentrate. This enhances my ability to perform complex, detailed tasks such as entering and analysing data on spreadsheets. Another positive way of disclosing a disability could be: Having a visual impairment means that I developed an interest in and aptitude for Information Technology at an early age. I am keen to develop my IT skills further in my career.
4: Many application forms and medical questionnaires ask direct questions about disability and health. If you give false information and your employer finds out after youve become employed, your employer could be within its rights to sack you.
5: If your disability has any health and safety implications for you or for others, you are by law obliged to inform your employer.
6: You can get help through the Employment Service Access to Work scheme. If prospective employers are worried about the extra costs of hiring you, point out that financial support is available from the Access to Work scheme. For example, the scheme funds specialist equipment and covers extra transportation costs.
7: Admitting the difficulties youve had and highlighting the ways youve overcome those difficulties shows maturity and determination. Employers will likely be impressed by these qualities.
Reasons for not disclosing
1: You may feel that youll be discriminated against and rejected by prospective employers.
2: You may not want to discuss your disability with a stranger.
3: You may feel that your disability has no direct affect on your ability to do the job youve applied for.
Timing a disclosure
If you decide to disclose, timing is crucial. You may in some circumstances be advised not to disclose your disability initially but to wait until later in the application process. Sometimes the opposite timing would be more advisable.
On the application form?
Some application forms ask direct questions about health and disability, so you can give all the details there. You may also feel that your disability has helped you have experiences that actually increase your number of skills. Most application forms include an open section asking why you think youre suitable for the job vacancy. This would be a good place to explain your disability in a positive way (this is discussed in more detail in Section 5).
On medical questionnaires?
You may be asked direct questions about disability and health on a medical questionnaire. You must answer these questionnaires accurately.
On equal opportunities monitoring forms?
An employer may ask you to fill out an equal opportunities monitoring form, which will ask questions about your ethnic/racial background, gender, age and disability. The purpose of these forms is to help employers determine what mix of people apply for their job vacancies. Equal opportunities monitoring forms are not used to judge your application. They are separated from your application before reaching the people who will decide whether or not to proceed with your application.
In a covering letter?
If you attach a covering letter to your application, you could mention your disability in this letter. Again, use this as an opportunity to make your disclosure positive. (How to write covering letters is discussed in Section 5).
Prior to attending an interview?
If youre asked to attend an interview and need practical support, such as a sign language interpreter or help getting to the interview, you could contact the employer to ask for support. In a large organisation you would probably contact the Personnel (or Human Resources) Department. Under the DDA, such support would usually be seen as a reasonable adjustment.
At the interview?
You may have a disability that you cannot conceal from an employer. It may surprise those interviewing you if youve come that far in the application process and havent mentioned your disability (even if your disability has no effect on your ability to do the job). Because theyre surprised, they may dwell on your disability by asking irrelevant questions about your disability that could have easily been explained earlier, either on an application form or in your covering letter. Such questioning will detract from your opportunity to explain the real issue: why your abilities match the job requirements.
Three key points to remember
First, dont assume that a prospective employer will view your disability negatively. Many companies have committed themselves to the Employment Services two tick scheme and a good number understand their obligations under the DDA. Yet others are members of the Employers Forum on Disability, which means they are formally committed to creating and developing opportunities for disabled people.
Second, dont restrict your applications only to employers who advertise their commitments to recruiting disabled people. Just because a company doesnt formally acknowledge its positive view of disability doesnt mean that company wont be open to your application.
Third, always remember that you can disclose your disability positively.
There is no easy way to know whether and/or when to disclose your disability to a prospective employer.
Think through your decision about disclosure carefully. Get advice if you need it.
If you decide to disclose your disability, remember to be positive. Your selling points are your abilities not your disabilities.
Section 5: Finding jobs to apply for
Finding appropriate jobs to apply for is simple, requiring no special skill other than effort. This Section lists a number of useful sources of job vacancies.
Your first port of call for finding actual jobs to apply for should be your careers service. There youll find lists of job vacancies, newspapers and graduate recruitment brochures, plus a host of other job vacancy listings. A careers adviser will be able to help you choose the most useful resources given the sorts of jobs youre looking for.
There are a number of large electronic catalogues of job vacancies on the Internet. Most are searchable by keyword and allow for browsing by category (some useful Websites are listed in Appendix 5). Many technology-based companies advertise exclusively on the Internet because they only want to recruit people sufficiently comfortable with modern communication technology to find jobs electronically. Sometimes these resources can be overwhelmingly large, but are for the most part easy to use. Again, ask your careers adviser for guidance.
Presentations and careers fairs
Employers often give presentations to students, either in the autumn term or coinciding with an interviewing tour called a milkround. These involve a number of large employers visiting selected universities to interview students. Ask your careers adviser for more information.
Make the most of careers fairs. They are a brilliant way of seeing lots of employers in one day. Careers fairs provide information about job vacancies and how companies plan to recruit for those vacancies. You can gather application packs and can sometimes apply there and then. Fairs are held locally and nationally and are organised by the careers services, by AIESEC (sometimes with the Student Industrial Society) and by specific employers, such as the Civil Service and the legal profession.
Some fairs cover alternative work, such as conservation and charity work. There are also fairs dedicated to, for example, Information Technology. You can get the dates and locations for careers fairs from your careers service or watch out for advertisements in the national press (usually in graduate employment sections).
Disabled students have sometimes experienced difficulties accessing careers fairs. Plan in advance as much as you can by thinking through what might happen. For example, youre likely to come away with many brochures and application packs. Do you need to make arrangements to get them home?
Some employers will accept a Standard Application Form at careers fairs. It might be a good idea to get some of these in advance from your careers service and fill them in before going to a careers fair, that way you wont have to waste time on the day. Getting hold of a list of visiting employers in advance can help you plan which employers you most want to see. You could even go so far as to ring up some employers and explain (very politely) that you would like to talk with their representatives at the fair and that to do so you would like them to make certain arrangements to accommodate your needs.
Newspapers and trade publications
Like the Internet, hard-copy publications offer a great range of job vacancies. Unlike Internet job databases, unfortunately, there is only one way to search for suitable vacancies in hard-copy publications: page by page. To save time, learn which publications contain the sorts of job advertisements youre looking for. For example, if you are looking for a job in Social Work, dont waste time looking in the Financial Times. Again, your careers service can guide you towards the most appropriate publications.
Trade publications can be a useful resource in addition to local and national newspapers. There are, for example, a number of excellent magazines published for engineers, many of which contain job vacancy advertisements. Your careers adviser will know which trade magazines you should consult.
Employers sometimes contract recruitment agencies to find suitable candidates. Recruitment agencies then, usually, advertise and conduct initial interviews to screen candidates. A recruitment consultant decides whether to present you to the employer. So, treat applications to recruitment agencies as seriously as you would treat applications directly to employers.
Some agencies, such as Brook Street, have a particular interest in disabled people. Approaching them is a good idea. Opportunities for People with Disabilities is another agency that keeps a register of disabled job seekers. Agencies are now covered by the DDA in just the same way as other service providers. The good ones are making the most of this opportunity to enlarge their pool of candidates.
Hidden job market
As many as 80% of jobs are never advertised. This should not discourage you from pursuing the other means of job hunting discussed above, especially since unadvertised job vacancies are usually middle and upper level, not entry level graduate positions.
The hidden job market works something like this: an employer needs to hire someone for a specific position but doesnt have time to undertake a full recruitment process. So, the employer thinks of potentially suitable people she has met. She may also ask colleagues whether they know anyone who might be suitable. Shell then interview the individuals and make her selection after interviewing. This approach saves a lot of time (and therefore money).
The trick for job seekers is to tap into the hidden job market by becoming known to potential employers. There are many ways of doing this, the simplest of which is to let everyone you know know that youre looking for work. Dont feel ashamed or shy about talking about your job search. Everyone has to look for a job at some point. Highlight the positive aspects of your job search, even if it has been a largely negative experience. People tend to be more receptive to positive than negative explanations. Besides, you never know telling the right person at the right time can pay dividends. The problem is you never know whom and when. Accessing the hidden job market is a medium to long-term effort.
Another means of accessing the hidden job market is to ask for information interviews. At an information interview you ask someone in a job similar (usually more senior) to the one youre seeking to meet with you. The interview has two purposes. First and foremost, its an opportunity for you to learn about the job, about the person in the job and, based on these two pieces of information, whether the job matches your interests, aptitudes and objectives. In this respect, information interviews enhance your research about which jobs match you (discussed in Section 2). Second, the information interview gives you a chance to become known to someone in the field in which you are interested in working. Your careers adviser will be able to help you identify and approach an appropriate person for an information interview.
A final suggestion for accessing the hidden job market is to join professional organisations. The Institute for Public Relations, for example, encourages students and graduates to join. As a member, youll be invited to a variety of events, meetings and presentations. This means youll be able to meet people who might one day need to employ you. As well, as a member youll receive publications with interesting information, including job vacancy advertisements.
All of this is called networking. The only problem with networking is that it very rarely leads directly to a job. And the time between meeting someone and getting a job may be very long. For this reason, especially for young people just entering the job market, networking alone is unlikely to be enough. A combination of traditional job hunting (applying for jobs, going to career fairs, etc.) and networking is best.
Ask a careers advisor where to look for advertisements for the sorts of jobs your interested in.
Use all resources available: Internet, presentations and careers fairs, newspapers and trade publications and recruitment agencies.
Accessing the hidden job market takes a lot of networking. This effort can pay significant dividends, even if that payment takes a long time to be delivered.
Section 6: Marketing yourself and closing that sale - Get That Job
The following is an introduction to marketing yourself to employers using application forms, CVs, covering letters and references and closing the sale interviews and assessment centres. Some of the points raised in Section 4 about disclosing your disability will affect how you convince employers to hire you. Youll need to keep them in mind throughout the application and screening process.
For the most part, filling in application forms is straightforward. Youll need to provide basic education and employment details. Most application forms also give you space to offer any further information. You may want to use this space to introduce your disability positively (as discussed in Section 4). Use the rest of this space to explain how your skills and experience match the employers requirements. This explanation is essentially the same as that written in a covering letter, which is discussed below.
A CV is your ultimate marketing tool. Its aim isnt to get you a job by itself, but to tempt prospective employers sufficiently that theyll want to meet you.
Its generally best for your CV to adhere to an established format. A CV you can model yours on is in Appendix 1. Ask your careers adviser if you would like more examples to look at.
General points about writing a CV:
Be assertive, not self-effacing.
Highlight transferable skills and achievements with substantiating examples.
Use up-beat and positive language and avoid jargon.
Make the format visually attractive.
Make it short, not more than two A4 pages.
Take your time. A tatty CV will turn off employers no matter how wonderful your skills are. Aim for the highest quality you can achieve.
Target your CV. Make subtle changes so that the information presented in your CV corresponds as closely as possible to the qualifications and experiences the employer is seeking.
Use verbs wherever possible (such as implemented, analysed, wrote and calculated).
[A model CV is in Appendix 1]
The covering letter
Always attach a covering letter to your CV or application form unless its clearly not wanted. You can use the covering letter to highlight connections between the job vacancy and your experiences and qualifications. Keep the letter short and succinct. Show that you can offer the skills and knowledge being sought. Above all, dont let your writing become emotive. Even if youve experienced prejudice, this isnt the place to air your grievances. The main thing is to convince the employer that he or she really needs you.
[A model covering letter is in Appendix 2]
If youre asked to provide the names of referees, its important that you brief these people thoroughly. They may have unvoiced concerns about how your disability would affect you in the workplace. Make sure you discuss this with them so they feel reassured. Let them know about the requirements of the job(s) youre applying for and ask them to get in touch with you if theyre not sure about something. In this way, youre more likely to find out what theyre saying about you and about your disability.
Youve finally got an interview. Now you must plan ahead before you actually present yourself to a potential employer. If youve not made clear your requirements (such as a sign language interpreter) to the organisation that has offered you an interview, do so immediately. You may find it useful to visit the interview site in advance to check on facilities (or lack of them).
Its important that you appear friendly and confident at interviews. The simplest way of conveying both friendliness and confidence is to dress appropriately and to be well turned out. These are some of the easiest variables you can control during an interview.
Confidence can also come from being well prepared, and being well prepared requires you to anticipate what will happen during the interview. Consider the following tips to help you prepare for a job interview.
Be aware that your interviewer may also be a little nervous. Interviews are a two-way process and its worth considering how the interviewer might approach you. Most interviewers will not have had disability awareness training. Lack of experience and understanding of your disability may make an interviewer feel uncomfortable and out of control. Quickly and efficiently try to make things more comfortable for both of you by, for example, taking the lead on the handshake, requesting that the seating arrangements be altered to better accommodate your needs or asking that the interviewer speak more slowly and clearly. Sorting these things out will have a twofold effect: it will make the interviewer more relaxed because he or she has done something positive, and it will put you in the best possible position to show your capabilities.
A good way of showing quiet confidence is to ask the interviewer to leave any discussion of your disability to the end of the interview so that youre first assessed on your qualifications and skills. Youll be more likely to impress the interviewer if youve tried to anticipate the types of practical questions you may be asked concerning your disability. Before the interview you should make an honest assessment of the challenges your disability may raise for the employer. You should then think of or find out about what strategies can be used to help overcome these challenges, such as using an adapted keyboard, having your chair raised or lowered, being able to bring your guide dog to work or using a minicom system.
Knowledge of some of the financial assistance available to cover the cost of specialist equipment is also useful. Dont rely on your prospective employer knowing that there are grants to cover the cost of making reasonable adjustments for you.
You may also be encouraged to explain your attitudes to your disability in response to open-ended questions, such as Tell me about major problems you have encountered?. These questions, combined with the skilful use of reflective questions where the interviewer may repeat your actual words or implied meaning (for example, So you found it upsetting that ?), will make some elaboration necessary. Be careful not to become too deeply engrossed. Its your ability to do the job that should be under discussion. Similarly, be aware of leading questions such as: I see you read for a part-time degree. Would a full-time course have been too tiring? Remain alert and dont automatically accept interviewers assumptions about you and your disability.
If during the interview you feel that it is not going too well, try not to panic. Remaining calm will in itself count in your favour. Even if youre trembling with nervousness on the inside, remember that if you look calm others will likely believe you really are calm.
Increasingly, large companies are using assessment centres to help judge candidates suitability. Assessments usually last between one and three days. They can be nerve racking, especially if you fall into the trap of comparing yourself with other candidates. In fact, employers are generally recruiting to a standard, so you may not be in direct competition with those around you.
Assessments of your suitability usually involve the assessors observing how you interact with others, complete tasks and tests, and make presentations. Your careers adviser can help prepare you for assessment centres. As with applying and being interviewed for work, be sure to ask that your needs be met at an assessment centre.
Application forms, although standardised, allow room for explaining your particular skills and experience. The basic rules for filling in application forms are the same as those for writing CVs and covering letters.
CVs are the ultimate marketing tool use them to tempt prospective employers.
Covering letters usually accompany CVs. Covering letters should be succinct and should explain how your abilities match those the employer is looking for.
Keep in touch with your referees. Make sure they know about you, your disability (if necessary) and the sorts of jobs youre applying for.
To succeed at interviews, be prepared. Also, ensure that your particular needs are met.
Getting a job isnt easy but its far from impossible. You need to examine yourself and decide which sorts of jobs are suitable for you. Then theres the not-so-small matter of applying and being interviewed for jobs.
For what its worth, everyone usually struggles to get the right job, especially if its a first job. Disabled people can experience added difficulties because not all employers are as open as they should be. That being said, you can largely control how others view you and your disability and there are many employers with decent equal opportunities policies.
Use the reference information in the following Appendices to your advantage. If in doubt about any stage of your job search, ask. If you dont know whom to ask, contact Skill or your careers adviser.
Appendix 1 Model CV
18 Long Road
Accrington BB7 8QD
Skilled salesperson and customer service representative.
Proven ability to work to deadlines.
Experience researching, evaluating and synthesising statistical data.
Flexible and enthusiastic approach to work and problem solving.
Ability to use initiative and to work without supervision.
1996-1999 Lancaster University
BSc Hons, Psychology (2.1 expected)
Main Subject: Psychology and Computing, Social Psychology, Occupational Psychology. Developed interest in the use of statistical tools, which are useful in quality control and staff assessment.
Final Year Project: analysis of human/computer interaction involving three major companies.
1989-1996 Billinge School, Accrington
3 A levels Mathematics-B, Economics-C, Geography-C
6 GCSEs including English, all at Grade C or above
Summer 1997 Personnel and Merchandising Assistant Essential Clothing Store
Responsible for ensuring a high standard of customer service, ordering stock and checking availability, and designing shop displays.
Summer 1996 Sales Associate Warner Brothers Studio Store
American-style work experience through which I learned the importance of customer service and teamwork. It also reinforced my ability to work underpressure whilst remaining calm and cheerful throughout.
1993-1996 Part-time Sales Assistant Boots the Chemist
Worked in all departments, providing customer care and sharing product knowledge. Required fast working, quick thinking and high efficiency to meet the demands of tired customers and exacting managerial staff.
RSA certificates in computing and word-processing. Taught computer graphics to 15 and 16 year olds whilst in sixth form.
Developed communication and leadership skills when teaching computing skills to 15 and 16 year olds whilst in sixth form.
As student rag representative, used organisational, creative team-working and interpersonal skills to promote a successful rag week that substantially increased the amount of money raised.
Full, clean driving licence
Date of birth: 25th April 1971
References available on request.
Appendix 2: Model Covering Letter
18 Long Road
Accrington BB7 8QD
May 18, 1999
Mr Joe Bloggs
High Fashion Clothing
123 High Street
London SE1 1YP
Dear Mr Bloggs
Please accept this letter and attached CV as my application for the Assistant Manager vacancy in your Reading store. My sales experience stretches back to 1988 and includes the essentials of retail trade. I have been responsible for customer service, ordering stock and designing shop displays. I have also proven my dedication to ensuring the highest customer service standards.
I have a BSc Hons, which fulfils your education requirement. Through this degree I have advanced my IT skills. These skills were initially developed because of my disability. I have a visual impairment, so I learned at an early age how to use complex computer software to read text.
The Assistant Manager position represents exactly the sort of position I am seeking. I hope we will have the opportunity to discuss how I can become a useful addition to High Fashion Clothing.
Thank you for considering my application.
Appendix 3: Useful contacts
Sally Reynolds, Surrey Oaklands NHS Trust European Development, Kingsfield Centre, Philanthropic Road, Redhill, Surrey RH1 4DP
01737 281020 (tel), 01737 281032 (fax)
This is a partnership of European organisations that are working together to promote training and employment in the tourism industry for people with disabilities. A database is being created of projects that have been set up specifically to train and/or employ people with disabilities in travel and tourism. They also work to improve accessible tourism
Arberry Pink Ltd
17 Rathbone Street, London W1P 1AF
0171 631 5100 (tel), 0171 631 5123 (fax)
Organises an annual national careers fair, Careers Direct, specifically for disabled students and graduates.
Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC)
Sheraton House, Castle Park, Cambridge CB3 0AX
01223 460277 (tel), 01223 311708 (fax)
CRAC is an independent development agency working in the area of lifelong learning and career development. CRAC offers expertise, information and access to a national network.
Coverdale Organisation plc
Villiers House Clarendon Ave, Royal Leamington Spa, Worcs CV32 5PR
01926 436600 (tel), 01926 436699 (fax)
Runs the Leadership Development Programme. This offers training to disabled people who want to develop their management and teamwork skills. Applications are invited each spring for annual bursaries. Successful candidates are announced in the autumn.
Disability Action (Northern Ireland)
2 Annadale Avenue, Belfast BT7 3JH
01232 491 011 (voice), 01232 645779 (text), 01232 491 627 (fax)
Disability Action's Employment and Training Service offers information and support for people with disabilities, to assist them in gaining and retaining employment or to participate in Jobskills vocational training. They also provide Disability Awareness Training to employers, organisations, businesses and other interested agencies.
Disability Wales / Anabledd Cymru
Llys Ifor, Crescent Road, Caerffili, Wales CF83 1XL
01222 887325 (tel), 01222 888702 (fax)
Disability Wales provides independent advice and information, training opportunities and support for disabled people both directly as Disability Wales services and indirectly by supporting local agencies. They also provide training and advice to employers, service providers and policy makers in Wales.
Employers Forum on Disability
Nutmeg House, 60 Gainsford Street, London SE1 2NY
0171 403 3020 (tel), 0171 403 0404 (fax)
A national network of employers who wish to develop their policies and practice on employing people with disabilities. Does not operate a placement service for disabled job seekers. Can provide a list of members whom you can approach to enquire about vacancies or sponsorship.
Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities
1 Bank Buildings, Princes Street, London EC2R 8EU
0171 726 4961 (tel and fax), 0171 726 4963 (text)
Opportunities aims to help people with all types of disability, seen and unseen, to break down the barriers of disability and find employment. It operates throughout the UK through a network of Regional Centres and Job Clubs. Contact the head office to find your nearest centre. The organisation provides assistance with identifying abilities, preparing CVs and job applications, preparing for interview and obtaining aids and equipment. These services are provided free of charge to clients and employers.
Fast-Track Management Development Programme
6-10 Market Road, London N7 9PW
0171 619 7299 (voice), 0171 619 7187 (text), 0171 619 7399 (fax)
Fast-Track is a 12-month management development programme for disabled people of graduate calibre. It is a combination of practical work experience and personal development that will help to give the skills and knowledge to compete more effectively in the job market. It is organised by Scope in partnership with some of Britains major employers.
Drake House, 18 Creekside, London SE8 3DZ
0181 692 7141 (tel), 0181 469 2532 (fax)
OUTSET provides employment and training for disabled people in information technology through a network of centres in London, Luton and Wolverhampton. As well as providing IT training, there are employment service officers who assist in building their clients self confidence and work-ready skills. Supported work placements are arranged where necessary. A distance learning scheme is run from Outsets Ealing office.
Papworth Trust Employment Services
FThe Employment Team, Papworth Trust, Papworth Everard, Cambridge CB3 8RG
01480 830341 (tel), 01480 831919 (fax)
Employment Services at Papworth provide a range of work opportunities for disabled people through:
Supported Placement Schemes
Job Coaching (training and advice in job search skills, assessment of skills and experience in relation to the labour market)
Training and advice
They mainly provide services for people with physical and/or learning disabilities.
Shaw Trust Information Resource, Shaw House, Epson Square, White Horse Business Park, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 0XJ
01225 716 350 (voice), 0345 697 288 (text), 01225 716 334 (fax)
Shaw Trust is a charity that enables people with disabilities and mental health problems to maximise their potential in work opportunities. It provides vocational training, work tasters and work preparation. Shaw Trust is also working in partnership with over 2,000 companies to support people with disabilities in employment.
3rd Floor, 67-71 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7EP
0171 608 3161 (voice/text), 0171 608 3171 (fax)
Arranges work experience for people with disabilities in commercial, public and industrial organisations. There are schemes called Legable, Insurable, Mediable Artsable, and Workable in the Civil Service providing placements in specific areas of employment. The client is matched to the most suitable placement for them to help them develop their abilities in an area of interest. Before the placement starts the client is assured that their equipment and access needs are met and if necessary the employing organisation is provided with relevant awareness training.
Self Employment for people with disabilities
BOOST (Princes Youth Business Trust)
18 Park Square East, London NW1 4LH
0800 842 842 (freephone voice), 0171 543 1234 (text)
BOOST stands for Building On Our Strengths Together and provides advice and financial assistance to unemployed people with disabilities age 18-30 to help them set up their own business. The service is provided by three BOOST Project Managers across the UK.
Northern Pinetree Trust
Pinetree Centre, Durham Road, Birtley, Co. Durham DH3 2TD
0191 492 0022 (tel), 0191 410 0916 (fax)
Develops self-employment training for people with disabilities or long term illness. The Trust aims to develop enterprise awareness and self-esteem and provides self-employment counselling and guidance to help you set your business up.
Association of Disabled Professionals
BCM ADP London WC1N 3XX
01924 283253 (voice), 01924 270335 (text), 01924 283253 (fax)
The Association provides advice, information and peer support to disabled people, their advisers and friends focusing mainly on employment and related issues. ADP also works to try to ensure that legislation which will directly affect the lives of disabled people takes their needs and aspirations into account.
Group for Solicitors with Disabilities (GSD)
114 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
0171 320 5793/5794 (tel), 0171 320 5673 (fax)
The aim of this group is to achieve equal opportunities amongst disabled solicitors, would be solicitors or clients. To provide a forum in which the views of such solicitors can be discussed and then their views can be passed on to the Law Society and solicitors profession at large. It also addresses the needs of disabled students studying for professional examinations or seeking employment in this field.
Organisations working with people with specific disabilities
18 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD
0171 916 1500 (tel), 0171 916 1505 (fax)
Working Horizons is Arthritis Cares new employment programme
The programme includes:
one to one advice
personal development training
access to vocational training
access to Disability Service Team schemes
It is for people looking for work, currently in work or those who just wish to explore their options.
Autism and Aspergers Syndrome
Prospects Supported Employment Scheme
The National Autistic Society, 393 City Road, London EC1V 1NG
0171 833 2299 (tel), 0171 833 9666 (fax)
Prospects puts the emphasis on matching the individual's skills to the job and provides necessary specialist support to people with autism and Aspergers syndrome and to their employers to enable each individual to maximise their potential and contribute to the success of their organisation.
Scopes Employment Services
Employment Services Admin Manager, Employment Services Agency, Scope, Sterling House, 10B Harding Way, St Ives, Cambs PE17 4WR
01480 309614 (tel), 01480 309636 (fax)
A team of Employment Officers operating across England and Wales deliver the following services.
General employment advice including information about (or referral to) training opportunities; local providers of employment support services; and sources of funding for equipment and workplace adaptations.
Supported Placements (SPS) for people who are deemed eligible by the Jobcentre's Disability Employment Adviser.
Other Support Services such as informal local initiatives, networking with other relevant service providers, formally contracted services
Deaf and hearing impairment
British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD)
Honorary Secretary, 41 The Orchard, Leven, Beverley, E Yorks HU17 5QA
01964 544243 (tel), 01964 544243 (fax)
BATOD is a professional association offering information, advice and support to both trainee and qualified teachers of the deaf as well as other professionals who work with hearing impaired children and young people.
Third Floor, 6-12 Emerald Street, London WC1N 3QA
0171 405 4735/4765 (voice), 0171 405 4745 (text)
Counselling and advice services for individuals and professionals. Can offer deaf people services in:
preparing for interviews
advice on signing skills.
The National Deaf Childrens Society
Further, Higher Education and Careers Service, NDCS, 15 Dufferin Street, London EC1Y 8UR
Advises young deaf people aged 14-25 on:
Access to Work/PACT and how these schemes work
What the New Deal offers to young deaf people.
The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID)
RNID Helpline, 19-23 Featherstone Street, London EC1Y 8SL
0870 605 0123 (voice), 0870 603 3007 (text), 0171 296 8199 (fax)
RNIDs employment and learning project provides an information, assessment, advice, guidance and support service to deaf and hard of hearing people to assist them in accessing mainstream learning and employment opportunities. It is also involved in building links with colleges, universities, employers and Employment Service staff to help improve opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people.
Mind, National Association for Mental Health
15-19 Broadway, London E15 4BQ
0181 519 2122 (tel), 0181 522 1744 (fax)
Mind runs local employment projects and services to support users and survivors. They work with employers to develop good practice in employing people with mental health difficulties and are working with the Government to improve legal protection from discrimination and increase support to enable people with mental health problems to choose, get and keep jobs.
8 Addison Road. London W14 8DJ
0171 603 6373 (tel)
Richmond Fellowship Workschemes provide people with mental health difficulties with:
Vocational rehabilitation and training
Career guidance and support into open employment
Work experience in the local community
Sheltered work and employment in realistic commercial settings for people needing long term support
Shaw Trust Mental Health Employment Projects
Shaw Trust, Shaw House, White Horse Business Park, Epsom Square, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 0XG
01225 716300 (tel), 01225 716333 (fax)
Seeks and promotes work opportunities for people who have experienced mental health problems. Helps clients with:
Identifying skills and aspirations
Advice on further education and training
Provide work opportunities without pressure
Guidance on training to match local employment opportunities
Assistance with CV preparation and interview techniques
Practical work preparation
Matching skills and choices to work opportunities
Ongoing support and guidance during job search and in employment.
Action for Blind People
14-17 Verney Place, London SE16 3DZ
0171 732 8771 (tel), 0171 639 0948 (fax)
Organises locally based training courses (see also Workbridge below).
Association for Blind and Partially Sighted Teachers and Students (ABAPSTAS)
BM Box 6727, London WC1N 3XX
01484 517954 (tel)
ABAPSTAS is a small, national, voluntary, self-help organisation set up to give support to blind and partially sighted teachers and students. It provides advice and information, newsletters, a magazine and an annual conference.
Association of Visually Impaired Office Staff
BM Box 6727, London WC1N 3XX
The Association of Visually Impaired Office Staff (AVIOS) is a self-help organisation of blind and partially sighted people employed, training or having experience in office-related occupations. It promotes the employment of visually impaired people in office environments.
Blind in Business
Wingate Annexe, St Alphgate House, 2 Fore Street, London EC2Y 5DA
0171 588 1885 (tel), 0171 588 1886 (fax)
This organisation focuses on young, recently qualified people looking to start their careers. They run courses to equip young people with essential skills for finding work and help them find work placements and employment. They also advise employers on making their selection process accessible to visually impaired people.
Royal National Insitute for the Blind (RNIB)
Employment and Student Support Network 224 Great Portland Street, London W1N 6AA
0345 669 999 (helpline), 0171 388 2034 (fax)
Provides a range of training and employment services to blind and partially sighted people. These include vocational assessment and counselling, training in job search and self presentation skills and advice about self-employment opportunities. Also develop links with employers to help improve job opportunities. There are regional teams around the country, contact the London office to be put in touch with your nearest team.
The Blind Business Association Charitable Trust
The Old School House, School Lane, Buckingham MK18 1HB
01280 813 267 (tel), 01280 813 267 (fax)
Promotes education and training to enable visually impaired people to become self employed. BBACT also assists by making grants for essential equipment and materials to visually impaired people starting their own business.
Employment Support Adviser, Workbridge Services, 24-32 Murdock Street, London SE15 1LW
0171 635 7483 (tel), 0171 277 9093 (fax)
Workbridge is a joint initiative of national charities Action for Blind People and the Royal London Society. It acts as a specialist employment agency - assisting blind people in marketing their skills to employers, helping to overcome the perceived difficulties of employing blind people and advising on special equipment or other needs.
Appendix 4 Useful Publications
A-Z of Careers and Jobs
Published by: Kogan Page, 120 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JN
0171 278 0433 (tel), 0171 370 6348 (fax)
Encyclopaedia listing just about any career you could think of as well as other useful information to help in your search for the ideal career (£14.99).
Able to Succeed: Disabilities, Health and Job Choice
Published by: Sara Bosley, Cascaid.Cascaid Unit, West Annexe, Leicestershire County Council, County Hall, Glenfield, Leicester LE3 8YZ.
01509 283396 (tel)
Mainly aimed at careers officers, but gives useful guidance about choosing jobs if you have certain impairments or medical conditions (£10).
Published by: Arberry Pink Ltd, 17 Rathbone Street, London W1P 1AF
0171 631 5100 (tel), 0171 631 5123 (fax)
A free magazine for disabled graduates. It is published three times a year and distributed to university disability officers, careers services and student unions.
PCasebook: Equal Opportunities Disabled Graduates and Their Careers
PPublished by: Hobsons Publishing Plc, 159-173 St Johns Street, London EC1V 4RP
0171 336 6633 (tel), 0171 6081034 (fax)
An annual free publication aimed at graduates with disabilities. Profiles recent graduates with disabilities.
Careers and Occupational Information Centre (COIC)
PO Box 298A, Thames Ditton, Surrey KT7 0ZS
0181 957 5030 (tel), 0181 957 5012 (fax)
Has a number of useful publications including Working In , a series with 43 titles looking at various careers priced at £5.00 each; Occupations, a directory of career choices; Second Chances a guide to training, education and employment choices; and Look at work, which is aimed at young people with learning disabilities.
Disability Discrimination Act 1995: An Overview (1996)
Published by: RADAR, 12 City Forum, 250 City Road, London EC1V 8HF
0171 250 3222 (voice), 0171 250 4119 (text)
A guide to the 1995 Act which covers the rights people with disabilities have in employment.
Published by: Scope, 6-10 Market Road, London N7 9PW
0171 636 5020 (tel), 0171 436 2601 (fax)
www.disabilitynow.org.uk Monthly newspaper containing job adverts.
Employment Service Leaflets
Access to Work: practical help for disabled people and their employers: Information for people with disabilities.
Any Sign of a Job: video for hearing-impaired people in British Sign Language with subtitles and voice-over about Jobcentre services and practical support. Becoming a Disability Symbol User: information for employers.
Make it work: employment advice for people with disabilities.
The Disability Symbol: what it means for you.
Employment Service, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NF
0171 273 6006 (tel), 0171 273 6143 (fax)
Available from www.employmentservice.gov.uk or visit your local jobcentre or Employment Service office. There are a number of leaflets available from the employment service.
Great Careers for People Interested In Working with People, Sports and Fitness and The Performing Arts
Published by: Kogan Page, 120 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JN
0171 278 0433 (tel), 0171 370 6348 (fax)
These three books attempt to cover more unusual career ideas (£8.99 each).
Just the Job
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton, 338 Euston Road London NW1 3BH
0171 873 6234 (tel), 0171 873 6299 (fax)
This series has a wide ranging selection of titles looking at careers in areas ranging from Working with Children and Young People to Working Outdoors (which looks at everything from fish farming to the building industry). There are 27 titles in the series (£5.99 each).
Into Series (published by Skill)
Into Art (1995), Into Science and Engineering (1997) and Into Teaching (1998) look at access for people with disabilities to training and courses in these fields. They also feature profiles of disabled people who have careers in these areas (£6.50 each for professionals, £2.00 each for students).
Published by: RADAR, 12 City Forum, 250 City Road, London EC1V 8HF
0171 250 3222 (voice), 0171 250 4119 (text)
Guide to aspects of starting a career, such as interview technique, and lists of useful organisations (£2.50).
Ready, Willing, Able
A free jobs bulletin for people with disabilities. To join the mailing list contact:
RWA, 27 Harborough Road, London SW16 2XP.
0181 696 7006 (tel/fax)
Skill Information Leaflets
Employment Service Help for Disabled People
Training, Careers and Work
Which? Guide to Choosing a Career
Published by Which?: 2 Marylebone Rd, London NW1 4DF
0171 830 6000 (tel), 0171-830 8585 (fax)
Encyclopaedia listing a wide range of careers as well as other useful information (£9.99).
Appendix 5: Internet Job Sites
Employment agency. Find out how they operate, where your nearest branch is and register online for temporary or permanent work.
DisabilityNet Job Centre
Situations Vacant, Situations Wanted and Situations Vacant (personal assistants)
Over 70,000 jobs online
Guardian Jobs Unlimited
Many job advertisements and other resources for job seekers.
Jobs Network UK
A daily web and email based bulletin service to promote vacancies in the UK and Europe.
Job advertisements and a CV posting service
Careers information, interview tips, CV building service and job vacancies
Place your CV on-line and search the database of jobs.
Search a database of jobs and place your CV online
Describes itself as the essential guide to graduate jobs, careers and post graduate study in the UK. Contains a database of employers, job vacancies and useful information about a variety of careers.
Search a database of jobs and place your CV online
Top Jobs on the Net
Database of jobs.
based on text by Jean Brading
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