Support for Students with a Disability
If you have a disability it’s possible that you have questions about whether or how it might affect your experience of moving from education into work. Common questions include:
- Should you tell employers about your disability? Will they discriminate against you?
- How should you explain lower grades, gaps in education or a lack of work experience that might result from your disability?
The Careers Service, often in partnership with our Disability and Dyslexia Services, is here to talk these over with you.
Graduate employers seek new recruits with particular strengths. People with disabilities have often developed exactly these strengths as a result of living with the challenges that their disabilities bring up. For example, consider these strengths that TargetJobs list as in the top ten strengths that employers are looking for:
- Perseverance: A disabled person might have developed perseverance from carrying on in spite of experiencing repeated challenges.
- Problem solving: A disabled person might have developed problem solving skills from coming up with solutions to get around barriers and obstacles that everyday life throws up.
- Organisation: A disabled person might have developed organisational skills from keeping track of appointments and adhering to health/lifestyle routines.
Of course, everyone is different. If you would like to explore your strengths in more detail you might wish to take a look at the resources on Moodle (select Disability) and talk it over with a careers consultant.
Some disabled people have gaps in education, lower academic marks and/or a lack of work experience that have resulted from their disability. To see examples of how to address these on your CVs, applications or cover letters take a look at our resources on Moodle, as well as this helpsheet on cover letters.
You are always welcome to book an appointment with a careers consultant to talk over your approach to this. You might also choose to have your CV, application or cover letter over checked by us.
Deciding whether or not to be open about your disability is a highly personal choice that only you can make. Many organisations who work with those who have disabilities point to a number of advantages to being open about your disability:
- You can ask for the adjustments you need to be made to the recruitment process (e.g. assistive technology, extra time, etc)
- You can emphasise the strengths that you have developed as a result of your disability
- You can be yourself and not experience the pressure of hiding
- Your relationship with the employer is open and honest from the start
- The employer’s response will give you important information about what it might be like to work there as a disabled person
Find out more about the benefits of being open with an employer and how and when to tell an employer on the disability section of our careers pages on Moodle.
The Equalities Act 2010 makes it clear that in work and the recruitment process “Employers have a duty to make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure that a disabled employee is not treated less favourably than their non-disabled counterpart.”
A reasonable adjustment might mean providing assistive technology, breaks throughout an assessment centre, additional time or many other things.
To find out more about what reasonable adjustments are and how to request them take a look at the resources on Moodle.
Once you’re clear on your strengths and you’ve explored career options, how should you go about finding suitable positions?
Royal Holloway’s CareersPortal lists thousands of internship, placement and job opportunities. Beyond that, many employers offer schemes specifically targeting disabled students. The government run Disability Confident is nationally recognised accreditation scheme to support businesses to attract, recruit and retain disabled employees, including people with long-term health conditions. Many of these organisations offer a guaranteed interview scheme, meaning that if a disabled person applies and meets the criteria set out be the employer, they are guaranteed an interview.
Take a look at the resources on Moodle (select Disability) and if you want to discuss your career and how to approach it, book an appointment to speak to a Careers Consultant.