First of all, let’s just make one thing very clear – this is your private information which means only you can decide when and who you want to share it with. There may come a time though where you need to chat to your current or potential employer about your disability. Here are our top tips for having this conversation.
There are a bunch of reasons why you might talk to your employer about your disability. It could be that you need some additional support in your job or physical modifications to your workspace.
At different stages of the recruitment process you may also be asked the question “Do you have any health problems that may impact your ability to do this job?”
Don’t panic. Here’s how to answer the question no matter what phase of the process you’re at.
1. On a job application
If there’s the option to leave it blank and explain your situation at an interview- take it. It’s much easier to have this discussion in person, and the employer can ask any relevant follow up questions.
If you have to write something here are some options:
- Not that would affect my ability to do the job
- I have a health condition, but feel I will be able to do what’s required in the job
- In the past I had <insert condition> which I’ve recovered from and I don’t feel is going to impact on my ability to perform well this job
Whatever you do, don’t lie. Honesty is the best policy and being up front about things means you can get the right support.
2. At a job interview
If you’re asked this question at an interview, here’s a good response:
“I have a good understanding of my health condition and know what the signs are for my illness. I’ve worked on strategies to manage it and don’t feel it will impact my ability to do my job”.
Prepare some examples to back up your statement such as “I wear a knee brace when I feel fatigue and this helps me to feel more secure and supported”.
3. After the job is offered/ accepted
Find a good time to talk with your new employer in private. Let them know that you may need some extra support or time off for regular appointments to manage your condition.
You may want to explain how you would make up the time and assure them it won’t affect your work. Feel free to tell them you’d appreciate regular feedback on your performance and leave it at that.
Some final tips
Keep it short
Focus on the positive points including your experience, abilities and skills that are relevant to the job. They don’t need to know all the details about your condition, just that you can perform the job. You’re more than your disability. You know it, we know it. Show them that.
Keep it simple
Talk about your injury, illness or condition in basic terms and without using medical jargon. Instead of saying “I have a rotator cuff injury” try “I have a shoulder injury”.
Practice makes perfect
Practice talking about your condition as much as you can so you’re comfortable with how you’d explain it to an employer. If you’re comfortable, it’ll show.
Show them you’re all about making it work by suggesting some options and strategies for workplace adjustments to support you, and make it easier for your employer.
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