A Guide to Entering Paid Employment
Applying for a new job can be a long and stressful process for anyone, even more so when you have the myriad of issues associated with having a disability to work around. Fear not, Pathfinders are here to help guide you through the process and make it as painless as possible – grab a cuppa (or whatever you drink) and read through this guide.
Writing a job application
When you apply for a job you will either be required to submit a CV or complete an application form that will include much of the same details as your CV. Most application forms will ask for additional information, such as why you want the job and how you meet the requirements of the job description. It’s important that you read the job description precisely and tailor your application to it, ensuring the best possible chance of securing an interview.
In most cases you will only get one chance to prove to the employer that you should be invited to a job interview. So it’s crucial that your CV or application form shows evidence of the relevant skills and experience you can offer to the role. In short, make sure to sell yourself to would be employers. Things that should be included in your CV or application include your education, any work experience or placements, extra-curricular activities such as sport, competitions, awards and any volunteering you have been involved with. Hobbies and interests should also be highlighted, specifically if they demonstrate teamwork, commitment and a desire to improve yourself.
If you are concerned by lack of experience on your CV it may be a good idea to consider applying for voluntary roles in the community. This will help you improve your CV and employment prospects, access to training, internship opportunities, or engaging in tasks that aid self-improvement. This presents a longer route to paid employment but will increase your chances of success drastically.
If you are fortunate enough to be invited to an interview for a job it is essential that you research the employer (if you haven’t already) and the role extensively. Read through the job role description and any application materials, research the organisation to learn about its ethos, strategic aims, competitors and challenges. The more you know about the organisation the better your chances of success when in the interview room.
Preparing for your interview before-hand can be the difference between securing a job or not. There’s a number of typical interview questions that you may encounter during an interview, being aware of these and practicing your answers can be hugely beneficial.
These questions may include the following –
- – Why do you want this job?
- – What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- – What skills and experience will you bring to the job?
- – Where do you see yourself in five years?
- – What has been your biggest achievement/something you are most proud of?
- – Tell me about a time you made a mistake, what did you do?
- – Out of all the other candidates, why should we hire you?
- – What would you hope to achieve in the first 3 months of this job?
Job interviews can often be the hardest part of the job application process, bringing on stress and increasing anxiety, it’s important that you can think on the spot and carry a confident demeanour when you enter the interview (even if you’re feeling the exact opposite). Preparation and practice are the key to having a successful interview, but you’re likely to go through several unsuccessful interviews before acing one. It’s important not to feel disheartened after a failed interview, see it as an opportunity to learn and improve your interview technique for future occasions.
Under the Equality Act of 2010 employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for job applicants. These adjustments could include holding the interview in a more accessible location, giving you extra time to complete any assessments or written tasks, allowing a PA to accompany you or giving you a later interview slot. If you require any of these adjustments it’s important to tell the employer in advance of the interview.
You will need to decide whether to disclose your disability during your job application. Disclosing can be useful, particularly where you wish to mention any skills and experience you have gained as a disabled person which makes you more suitable for the position you’re applying for. Ultimately this is your decision to make.
Due to the nature or Neuromuscular conditions the employer will more than likely be aware that you have a disability when you enter the interview. The Equality Act (2010) means that employers cannot ask candidates questions about their health that are unrelated to the job role. They may ask what support you will need in place to fulfil the job role, but aren’t allowed to ask detailed questions about your condition and how it affects your day-to-day life. Employers may be unaware of the Access to Work Scheme and think that they will have to pick up the cost of any adjustments made, so make sure to tell them what support you will need and how the scheme can help with this.
Once you have a job offer
When you have secured a job it is important to start a conversation with your employer about how they can accommodate your needs. The Equality Act (2010) means that employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments where disabled workers are put at a disadvantage due to policy, practice, physical feature or absence of auxiliary aid or service. Some of these adjustments could include –
- – Work pattern alteration.
- – Employing on a part-time basis.
- – Employing on a job share basis.
- – Adjustable desks where standard desks are unsuitable for wheelchair users.
- – A ramp where required.
- – A reserved parking spot close to the entrance.
- – Time off for medical appointments.
In terms of what is deemed reasonable employers will need to consider whether the adjustment is practical (the job can be done with adjustment), their financial resources and whether the adjustment has an adverse impact on the health and safety of others.