Growing up with a serious health condition I knew I was different to my friends (I had blue lips for a start!) and it took me longer to do certain things but this didn’t mean I was dis- abled I was just differently able.
Being differently able meant that when it came to applying for jobs I could offer employers a range of skills and experiences I’d developed, skills and experiences able bodied people may not have gained. What I’m trying to say is that having a disability or health condition can actually make you more employable as you’ll have inadvertently developed a range of different skills.
· Adaptability living with a disability of health problems means that you’ll be adaptable, having worked out individual ways to overcome everyday problems. Being able to demonstrate this will show employers that you are able to respond and cope with a range of different situations.
· Time Management Balancing hospital visits, the need to take regular breaks and the fact that just simply takes you longer to carry out tasks with university work and other commitments means you’ll have developed excellent time management skills. The ability to plan and prioritise your workload will impress employers.
· Negotiation Whether it was with health care provider about treatment or the university about deadlines or access to buildings chances are those with a disability or health condition have got pretty good at negotiating! Negotiation will be vital in any work place as you meet and deal with new colleagues and situations.
· Specific aptitudes in many cases having a disability might make you better at something than others. For example many people with dyslexia can be more creative and those on the autistic spectrum may have talents in the mathematical, mechanical or musical areas.
· Empathy I believe that having a health problem or disability means that you are more likely to be able to identify with someone else’s feeling and be able to put yourself in their shoes. If you want to work in a customer facing environment like me empathy will be essential.
· Commitment and determination Let’s face it it’s much more of an achievement to get a degree if you have a disability or heath concern! Employers will be impressed by your commitment and determination. This was certainly true in my case. Disclosing the fact that I had finish my degree whilst in hospital impressed my current employers who felt if I could deal with that I could deal with most things. And guess what they were right!
Yes, dealing with a disability of health problem can be very difficult at times but when disclosing it to an employer it’s vitally important that you are positive about it. Don’t be afraid to emphasise your positive achievements in the face of adversity but avoid focusing solely on your disability throughout your application. As with any application your focus should be on showing the employer you are right for the job. Luckily for you the experiences you will have been through as a disabled student or someone with a long term health condition could give you the edge over other candidates.
G For more information about disclosing a disability of health problem to employers use our ‘Employment support / Advice on Disclosure for Disabled Students & Graduates’ or if you are a recent graduate you may be eligible to book a guidance appointment to talk it over with a careers consultant.