Disclosing Your Disability to an Employer: 5 Reasons to be Open

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Anyone with a disability or health condition will know only too well the fear that the following question on an application form causes:

Do you consider yourself to have a disability?


You don’t know why the employer is asking you the question; or what the consequences will be if you say that you do have a disability; or what judgements will be made; or will they just reject you? And so, you say that you don’t have a disability, even though you do. 

The reality is that employers are looking to recruit the very best talent, and they recognise that this includes individuals who have a disability or health condition. They want you to inform them about your disability or, more specifically, the support that you will need through the recruitment process in order that you can demonstrate your potential.

Only you can decide whether you are going to be open. The following are 5 reasons that you may wish to tell an employer:


Reason #1: You can request the adjustments or support you need

The main reason for telling an employer that you have a disability is to obtain the adjustments and / or support that you require during the recruitment process. Obtaining this support will enable you to demonstrate your full potential and your suitability for the role. 


Reason #2: You can discuss your disability positively with an employer

When you are open about your disability, you have full control over what information you share and the way your disability is perceived by others. This is your opportunity to present your disability positively to an employer. By articulating the skills and strengths that you have developed as a result of managing your disability on a day-to-day basis, you will leave the employer with a positive impression of your abilities.


Reason #3: You can draw on your disability to demonstrate the required competencies

During an interview, an employer will ask you questions about your competencies, skills and strengths, and ask you to provide examples of when you have demonstrated these. If you have been open about your disability, you will be able to draw on the unique skills and competencies that you have developed because of managing, and adapting, to your disability. These may include skills such as: resilience, determination, flexibility and problem solving.


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Reason #4: You can be yourself

It makes sense to be open about your disability because it is part of who you are. Rather than trying to cover it up, being open about your disability with an employer can help you to focus on being yourself and positively presenting your talents and abilities.

Equally, trying to keep a ‘secret’ takes a lot of effort. The effort you use trying to cover up your disability would be much better spent focused on demonstrating what a great candidate you are.


Reason #5: Your disability will help you to stand out

Employers receive 1000s of applications every year for their student and graduate programmes. Standing out and ensuing you are remembered, for the right reasons, is hard for any applicant. However, as someone with a disability or health condition, you can positively use this to stand out in the crowd and be remembered by those who read your application and who interview you. By articulating your achievements, despite having a disability and the barriers that this can present, you can stand out as an exceptional candidate and one who can add value and make a positive difference to the organisation you are applying to.

For more advice and information, become a member of www.myplusstudentsclub.com, for free, and explore our eBooks covering a range of topics such as disclosure, making an application and requesting adjustments.

Author: Helen Cooke, Director and Founder of MyPlus Students’ Club

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