Question: "I am applying for a role at a large retail store. I'm perfect for the job, have ten years' experience and excellent qualifications. However, I am a wheelchair user. I'm concerned that if I mention this within my CV, my application will be binned. Please help!"
In short, disability discrimination is illegal. However, this is a "foggy" subject with no right or wrong answers / rules. Instead, we'd like to share with you, our experience.
Research performed by greatwithdisability.com found that 77% of disabled job seekers felt uncomfortable disclosing their disability on a CV, cover letter, or within an application form in fear of discrimination. However, this needn't be the case. With one out of every five UK employees having some form of disability, the majority of businesses already employ disabled staff without even knowing it.
Mentioning your disability on a CV or cover letter is entirely your choice. Morally, you're not being dishonest by not mentioning your disability. As we mention regularly, a CV is a "sales" document and is used to sell you, as a candidate. It's only on an application form (which is a legal document) where you'll need to mention your disability.
Taking our client's question as an example; the main concern to the recruiter here is going to be wheelchair accessibility. There's a good chance that if it's a well-known retailer, their store will already be wheelchair friendly. The recruiter should only be concerned if something needs adapting to help you perform the job you're applying for. Again, there's nothing legally or morally wrong by not mentioning anything at all. After all, if your CV gets you to the interview on the merit of your qualifications and experience, your disability will become obvious to the interviewer and can be discussed then.
We recently invited three well-known disabled YouTubers to share their experiences of job seeking with us:
Chris Lenart, a Software Engineering graduate with Cerebral Palsy.
"If you want to work, nobody can stop you from working."
Molly Burke, a renowned motivational speaker on issues associated with blindness.
"If you think there's a job out there that you're well qualified for, apply for it. Don't see your disability as a limitation; see them as challenges that an employer would be lucky to have to work around because they would be lucky to have you working for them!"
Rikki Poynter, a deaf YouTube vlogger.
"Treat us like you would a hearing candidate - with respect. We're human beings trying to get a job in this economy just like you".
In 2010, the Equality Act was implemented (combining nine other acts, including the Equality and Disability Discrimination Acts). This was pivotal in ensuring consistency for both employers and employees. This act states that an employer can only ask about your health or disability if there are specific aspects of the role you're applying for that cannot be completed with reasonable adjustments or they're trying to ascertain as to whether you require help participating in an interview.
As cliche as it sounds, from the above videos, the overarching theme is that a disability shouldn't define you as a candidate but instead help differentiate (and possibly even promote) you as a candidate. In an ideal world, recruiters will not discriminate against a candidate with a disability (and in many times, they don't). However, in reality, this isn't always the case. For this reason, and the fact there's no legal obligation to mention it, we recommend not mentioning anything within a CV, and instead, just make a brief note on your cover letter.
In our experience as CV writers and from our previous engagements with some of the UK's leading recruiters, what we were often advised is: "ask the client if they can do the job. If the answer is yes, there's no reason at all to mention their disability on a CV". Instead, we recommend just a brief note within your cover letter. Something along the lines of: "I would like to take this opportunity to disclose that I was born with a visual impairment. However, this would not affect my ability to perform the role I am applying for". If your disability does require adaptations within the work environment, it would also be a good idea to explain these here, too.
If you do decide to mention your disability within a CV, the main thing to remember is to ensure you remain positive and showcase how you've demonstrated self-motivation to overcome any hurdles.
There are often times when an employer is keen to attract disabled candidates (these can often be advertised on specialist sites, such as disabilityjobsite.co.uk). In these situations, mentioning your disability on a CV and / or application form may be advantageous.
@LonelyKokabel Excellent. Was told by Work Programme to lie on my CV about my qualifications & disability so I could get office job. Now I'm a p/t teacher.— sam shelley (@hermesgypsy) April 25, 2017
Is this a familiar experience?— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) February 14, 2017
Storme says she loses out on work because of her disability so she keeps it off her CV. pic.twitter.com/vSlNLypvaM
A graduate applied for 400 jobs but had no response – until he took all references to his disability off his CV. https://t.co/ugapxx8YNx— autselfadvocacy (@autselfadvocacy) January 3, 2017