Disclosure of Disability during the Job Hunting Process is often one of the most difficult and complicated issues that faces each student or graduate with a disability.
Making the decision about whether or not to disclose a disability to a prospective or current employer is one most students and graduates with a disability have to make at some time in their working life.
If your disability is visible you will need to decide if you wish to allow the disability to “speak for itself” or if you wish to give the employer more information about your disability.
If your disability is invisible you will need to decide if and when you will disclose your disability.
The decision you make will be personal to you and as circumstances and situations vary you may find yourself adopting different approaches to the disclosure issue.
It is challenging to find the right answer to the question of disclosure, every student or graduate with a disability deliberating on this issue may find it useful to consider the information available on disclosure and if necessary make an appointment for a consultation with the careers adviser for students with disabilities to discuss further.
The Case for Disclosing:
- Because you need work adjustments
- Legally obliged to do so (because of health and safety issues)
- Stress (non disclosure may be stressful for you)
- Equal Opportunities Policies or Company/government requirements to employ people with disabilities (the law requires a minimum of 3% of public service departments should be made up of people with disabilities (The Disabilities Act 2005)
- Help would be available should you need it
- Opportunity to describe your disability positively and if your disability is obvious you can deal with misconceptions and provide correct information showing how you have dealt with problems that may arise in the workplace
- Many application forms or medical questionnaires ask direct questions about disability and health – be honest
- Funding is available for making adjustments (http://www.fas.ie/en/Allowances+and+Grants/default.htm)
- Adjustments can be put in place earlier
- You will be in a better position of trust if you give full details to your employer and might build up a better working relationship
- You may need to explain “gaps” in your CV
- Employment Equality Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities
- Some employers are positive to disability
- You can describe your disability in a very positive light – your experiences may have provided you with many transferable skills – good attention to detail – good communication skills – good organisation skills etc.
- If you decide to disclose when you are ready you will be more confident
- If you are forced to disclose at a later stage it may be harder for you
Case Against Disclosure:
- You may be discriminated against and rejected
- You may feel that the employer will label you and not see you abilities
- You may feel that your disability has no effect on your ability to do the job and so there is no need to disclose
- Privacy – you may not wish to discuss personal details about your disability with a stranger
- You may feel that the application process does not allow the time or space for someone who does not know you to get an accurate understanding of your disability
- CV/Covering Letter
- Application Form Stage
- On Medical Questionnaire
- On Equal Opportunities Monitoring Forms
- Before the Interview
- During the Interview
- At the Job Offer Stage
- During Employment
How to Disclose – What Will I Say?
- Remember that the decision to disclose is YOURS
- Provide positive examples of when you have overcome challenges
- Demonstrate with examples the skills gained from managing a disability
- Be prepared for the interviewer to ask you about your disability and perhaps to deal with insensitive questions
- Identify problems areas from the job description and be prepared for questions around these
- Alert referees in advance to your decision to disclose or not
- Be enthusiastic and assertive
- Be specific about your abilities
- BE POSITVE – highlight your ABILITY – e.g. if you have a hearing difficulty, your listening skills may be strong – you pay attention to detail – you have excellent eye contact / body language
- Make your application based on the basis of what you want to do and what you can do
- Maximise the positive – Minimise the negative
- Know what grants are available and what supports are available to the employer (they may not know) - Fás: Allowances and Funding
- Think about what disability has taught you – what skills can you transfer from this in the workplace?
- Use complicated terminology to describe a disability
- Assume that the employer will view your disability in a negative way
- Allow the interview to dwell in your disability – your disability is not the central concern (emphasis on your skills instead)
- Allow room for doubt
- Assume that an employer will view disability in a negative way
For more information on Disclosure please read the AHEAD Guide to Disclosure (2,999kB) or
The UCC guide to Disclosure of Disability During the Job Hunting Process (842kB)
- Skill - Disclosure
- Kent - Declare
- UCC - Disclosure Online
- RNIB - Disclosure
- Disability Toolkits - Disclosing Disability
- Life - Disability Disclosure Handout
- Workahead - Disclosure
- GradIreland - When should you disclose your disability?
- Miltwright - Art of Disclosing Your Disability
- AHEAD - Disclosure