I overheard a couple of students discussing future jobs and what they were both going to do later on in life, but one stated she had dyslexia and her words were “I’m not going to get anywhere if I can’t even write an essay correctly.” They walked off with their coffees and I was left wondering…
Working in Student Support and Guidance I know a lot of the disability staff deal with dyslexia assessments and disability support so understand the dilemmas students can face, but what with the recession and the hardship of finding a job anyway, I can understand why students find it daunting and nerve-wracking if they have dyslexia.
What is important to note is that dyslexia does not manifest itself in the same way as other people because dyslexia can vary from person to person. One may have problems with structuring sentences, punctuation, jotting down ideas and spelling errors and others may find projecting their ideas is a bit of a struggle. A few years ago I was working with a colleague who told me job hunting after graduating was hard work. She would go to interviews and when asked questions directly it would read something one way to her but mean something completely different, her ability to write coherently was also slightly slower so filling out her application forms became a drain on both her and her time management. I always remember her saying that one of the questions on the application was to “describe a situation where you had bad customer service,” and she said “finding out what to write was hard because wording it was dreadfully hard work.”
So if someone has got dyslexia… What’s the solution? Can I overcome it?
Yes! Yes you can. The first point to note is that dyslexia does not impair you. Just because you may find reading and writing harder than others, it does not mean you are incapable for a job in writing or a job in general. It is also important to note that people should only apply for jobs that match their suitability, regardless of disability. If you apply for a job as a Digital Content Manager but have never had managerial experience, it is questionable why you would even get an interview to start with.
People with dyslexia have their own strengths and own positive attributes and can suit any job as long as their application has been proof-read. A lot of people with dyslexia “…are advanced in other areas such as creativity. Most that have dyslexia are very creative and many have become famous for their creative ideas and personality. Many present their ideas in the form of images instead of text. They can often think in terms of pictures and have an amazing imagination. With the proper support, love, and care they can often excel to unimaginable heights.” Bart Icles states. As long as you are prepared and your application has been proof-read and you have received help from someone else, like most people should do anyway, then there is no reason why you should be treated any differently.
…The important notion is that you gain confidence before you apply…
People need to be reminded that any disability does not mean they are impaired from doing a job right. If you have dyslexia and you treat it as a barrier, then you need to have your confidence raised before you apply for jobs. Discuss your options with a friend or a relative, ask them to go over any application forms, role-play interviews with each other and ask for feedback. The important notion is that you gain confidence before you apply. If a candidate has dyslexia then the part they need to excel in is the creative part. I have friends that find it very hard to write coherently, but put them in from on Adobe Photoshop and they can create something an imagination will find hard to cope with.
Once you have found yourself a job, it can still be very frustrating as you may feel you are no longer in that safety net of School or University with the support surrounding you but even if you have left University, Universities still offer you a fantastic careers service that will help you with applications, offer you sound advice and go over your CVs.
Do I state I have dyslexia in my application form I hear you say…?
What you must be aware of is that when/if you declare it in your application it is always defined in the disabled section on the application form, which is covered by the Equality Act 2010. This is because it can have a long-term effect on one’s ability to carry out activities day-to-day so you are covered by this act to ensure that having dyslexia will not be the prime reason as to why you may or may not get the job, when you submit your application form.
What does worry people is that if you tick the ‘yes’ box stating that you have a disability it might put your employer off of you and your application but it won’t. Whilst there is no obligation or duty to state you are dyslexic, it is still important to be true to who you are and by stating this, you are entitled to a fair trial regardless of whether you have a disability or not. Jolene Svoboda, Disability Advisor at Canterbury Christ Church University states “Job seekers should ensure that they use a read aloud software to proof read their applications or make use of a friendly colleague, associate, family member to review for them. There is no need (legally) to declare a disability until after you have been offered a job, however if you never declare then you are not protected under the law and therefore if you have difficulties related to your needs then you will not be protected. Jobseekers who have dyslexic difficulties (with diagnosis or without) may like to book an appointment at the local JobcentrePlus (they have Disability Employment Advisers).
If you need advice on dyslexia job hunting, please see the following:
Always get someone to proof-read your application
If you are a previous university student, arrange a meeting with your careers team and ask for some advice from the professionals
If you are nervous, contact your place you want to apply to and ask about what support is in place for staff members with dyslexia
Contact your local council for the latest advice on job hunting
Visit the British Dyslexia Association for information on employment information and support
And good luck… The world is your Oyster… If you dislike Oysters, you better start pretending to like them!