It is thought that one in ten of us experiences some degree of dyslexia.
And while the difficulties of dealing with dyslexia are often thought about in relation to full-time education, when it comes to jobseeking they can be easily overlooked.
We’ve spoken with Dyslexia Action UK, a national charity with over 40 years’ experience in supporting people with dyslexia and literacy difficulties.
We’ve also spoken to Claudette Jacobs, an experienced dyslexia employment coach and current jobseeker, to find out about her experiences and advice when it comes to the issue.
Here are some of their top tips for jobseekers with dyslexia:
Make the most of your mindset
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, start with a positive mindset.
There are plenty of examples of incredibly successful people affected by dyslexia who were once in your position. Richard Branson, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, CEO of Goldman Sachs Gary Cohn and John Chambers, CEO of CISCO, are all great examples.
An innovative mindset is key for any jobseeker moving forward, so always endeavour to maintain yours at every stage of the process.
Focus on your abilities
Identify your strengths, and place precedence on them throughout your application.
Claudette Jacobs is a dyslexia awareness advocate and coach for dyslexic employees, and has had severe dyslexia for around 17 years. She has worked with companies such as Bloomberg and KMPG, and as a current jobseeker, knows the difficulties faced first-hand. However, she believes that being aware of your own abilities is a great starting point:
As Claudette says ‘Rather than dwelling on what you can’t do in the job market, focus on the things you do well. People with dyslexia have an advantage because they are often more acutely aware of their strengths and weaknesses.’
Check out each individual job description, and see how your strengths fit in. Is a job that requires a lot of admin, for example, appropriate to your skills? And would you be comfortable in this position?
Strengths, rather than weaknesses, should always be front of mind.
Be aware of your resources
In a logistical sense, there are a number of tools which may make the jobseeking process a little less time-consuming.
There are a number of speech readers, reading and text resizing apps, and other resources available to try to make webpages and online applications more easily accessible.
What’s more, as many of these are free, and can be accessed by a wide range of different platforms, there’s really no excuse not to try and find one that works well for you.
Ask a friend
Although it might seem like added effort, it’s absolutely essential for any jobseeker to ask someone to proofread their application – whether they have dyslexia or not.
By asking a family member or close friend to read through your CV and cover letter, you’ll be much more confident when submitting your application, as they should help to pick up any errors which may have occurred through the writing process.
Contact the recruiter directly
One of the biggest tips to remember is: if in doubt, ask.
Claudette’s advice is: ‘if you have set questions or wish to apply in a format other than an online CV, contact the company’s HR department directly.’ If you are more familiar with this approach, some recruiters may be open to accepting applications this way.
Not only will this help you feel more comfortable with your application, it is also a great way to break the ice and introduce yourself to a potential interviewer.
Be open to and aware of any available support
Check the help available to you, some of which you may not currently be aware of.
The Department for Work and Pensions ‘Access to Work’ scheme, for example, is designed to help a wide range of individuals, including those with dyslexia, start a new job or remain in employment by offering practical support which goes beyond the ‘reasonable adjustments’ which employers are required to make by law.
There is no set amount for an Access to Work grant. How much you get depends on your circumstances. Access to Work grants can cover, or go towards, a range of practical solutions to problems faced within the workplace – for example:
- adaptations to the equipment you use
- a support worker or job coach to help you in your workplace
- a support service if you’re absent from, or are finding it difficult to work
- awareness training for your colleagues
- the cost of moving your equipment if you change location or job
With the support of the people you trust, a good amount of available resources and assistance from professional organisations there to help, there’s no reason why jobseeking needs to be a hindrance for those with dyslexia.
To learn more about your options if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of dyslexia, Dyslexia Action Centres can offer free half-hour consultations to discuss possible assessments, screenings, tuition and consultancy. Services available may include support with literacy, numeracy, study skills or job seeking help such as CV writing. To contact your local centre, visit Dyslexia Action’s website and click find us.
If you’d like more information on access to work, what’s available and how to claim, visit the gov.uk’s access to work page.
If you are a dyslexic jobseeker or recruiter and have any insights which may help inform this article, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below with your views, or feel free to get in touch with us directly.
To find out more about dyslexia and Dyslexia Action visit www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk
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