Applying for Jobs and Promotions
Choosing the right job/career.
When considering a career or a job move, it is important for the dyslexic candidate to carefully and honestly think about their strengths, weaknesses and skill sets.
What do you find difficult?
There are many reasonable adjustments and types of support that can be offered to employees with dyslexic tendencies to successfully help with areas of difficulty. However, there are situations and jobs where these may not be sufficiently effective to ensure adequate performance.
People with dyslexia can be particularly prone to stress, and struggling to cope in the workplace can often lead to stress related illness.
What are you good at?
It is important to choose a type of work which you would enjoy, would be good at and would be likely to play more to your strengths than your weaknesses.
Supporting the weak areas.
There are many successful adjustments which can be offered to employees with dyslexic difficulties to address their weaker points, such as effective assistive software and training to help with written work and the use of a digital recorder instead of note taking. For an idea of how someone can be supported in the workplace see Dyslexia Support in the Workplace.
Many dyslexic people have above average talents in a number of important areas. While not everyone will have outstanding gifts, all will have strengths.
Skills such as big-picture thinking, lateral thinking and problem solving, visual strengths and an intuitive understanding of how things work are often the hallmarks of successful dyslexic people.
People with dyslexia are frequently successful in entrepreneurship and sales, art and design, entertainment and acting, engineering, architecture, IT, computer animation, technical and practical trades and professions.
Analyse your profile of strengths and weaknesses.
You may find it helpful to draw up a table of your strengths, your weaknesses and skill sets. Then look at the job description and see how closely you match.
C.Vs. and Application Forms.
A well presented C.V. or application form is essential for a job application to progress further. You may need help with this, and it is always a good idea to get a friend or family member to proofread and check it over before it is sent off. People with dyslexia are often not good at spotting their own mistakes.
If you have difficulty with handwriting and filling in forms accurately with good spelling, you should request an electronic version from the employer. With an electronic version, you can draft your entries, spell check, and then copy and paste into the form.
Employers have an obligation under Disability Discrimination legislation to offer ‘reasonable adjustments’ to people with disabilities, including dyslexia.
If an electronic version of a form is not available, the employer could be asked to accept a C.V. instead of a handwritten form.
A good covering letter tailored to the particular application and employer is also recommended.
Should I disclose my dyslexia?
There is no legal obligation to disclose dyslexic difficulties, and many people feel that they would prefer to leave this information off a C.V. or application form because of possible discrimination.
Some application forms have a section asking about disabilities. Many people with dyslexia do not see themselves in this light, although they are still protected under the Disability Discrimination Act. Dyslexia is seen more as a learning difference.
If you were invited to interview, you may be required to do written tests or other assessment exercises. You may feel that disclosure would be appropriate at this point order to request accommodations, such as extra time and other arrangements, depending on the nature and severity of your particular dyslexic difficulties.
Evidence of dyslexia.
If you disclose dyslexia, the employer may request a copy of an adult (post 16 years) assessment report as evidence of disability. Many people have not been formally identified as having dyslexic difficulties, and others were only assessed at school and there may be no available documentation. This can be a problem for many people as dyslexia assessments are not funded. A full diagnostic assessment may take up to a month or more to arrange and would cost several hundred pounds. See Getting a Full Assessment for Dyslexia. In some circumstances an employer may be encouraged to accept the results of a screening test such as Spot Your Potential on the B.D.A. website.
Accommodations in Written Tests.
If you are required to do written tests as part of the recruitment or promotion process, you may request appropriate accommodations. Extra time (+25%) is normal. In some cases you may need a specific recommendation from a suitably qualified assessor for particular accommodations in tests and exams.
On-screen tests can be very challenging for dyslexic people, as we all read less efficiently on screen. You may wish to request hard copy on a paper colour of your choice, and in a font and font size of your choice.
Multiple choice and psychometric tests can be very discriminatory for many dyslexic people, although not all. You may wish to request an alternative style of assessment.
Under stress, dyslexic difficulties can become more pronounced. For instance taking on board the questions you are being asked, remembering information, organising your reply and finding the right words may all become problematic.
Accommodations in interviews.
If you feel that you are going to have difficulty giving a good account of yourself at interview because of this, you would be entitled to ask for accommodations.
These could include:
- having a list of the question areas in advance;
- requesting that the interviewers ask about only one issue at a time, avoiding multiple questions;
- requesting that you be offered plenty of time to reply and not be hurried;
- requesting that questions relating to events are asked in chronological order, not jumping about in time (to help your memory).
Case Studies and Scenario excercises.
If the interview process includes a case study or scenario exercise, you should request the case study well in advance to give you time to process the information and prepare your views. You should be allowed to take your notes in to the interview.
In any event, careful preparation before an interview will always pay off. Try to anticipate the questions you are likely to be asked and organise your response, but avoid sounding rehearsed. You may be invited to ask some questions of your own about the job or the company: try to think of some interesting ones.
Starting a new job.
You may benefit from tailor-made accommodations and support in your job. Some people with milder dyslexic difficulties may prefer to see how things go, but for others, getting the appropriate accommodations and support at the outset may be preferable.
For information on this process, see Dyslexia Support in the Workplace.
Careers Advice Organisations.
National Careers Service.
A government funded organisation which gives you access to information, careers advice and resources, which can help you make more effective skills, work and life choices.
Tel: 0800 100 900.
Dyslexic Graduate Careers Advice.
University Careers Office may be able to help.
EmployAbility,an organisation providing the essential link for disabled and dyslexic students and graduates to ease the transition from education to employment, giving free guidance and advice on internship and graduate opportunities with top employers, as well as recruitment processes including how to seek disability related adjustments.
Workplace Dyslexia Consultant offering careers advice for dyslexic graduates or equivalent: Brian Hagan Tel. 0208 348 7110 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org