One of the most difficult questions I’ve ever had to answer was whether or not to disclose a disability on your CV. It’s a sensitive topic whichever way you look at it and sometimes you might be inclined to say “Despite my disability, I am perfect for the job and you will not regret taking me on” can work but more often than not it may backfire. While it’s true that many employers have a quota of disabled people they need to employ, not everyone honors this. Some companies have the two tick disabled logo so it makes sense to mention your disability – the chance of them hiring you is far greater, but is it?
Unfortunately, in reality it doesn’t always work out that way. Multinational companies such as McDonalds, Asda and Costco all have a quota system in place and they do tend to adhere to it. However, smaller companies, particularly those that are less recognized on the high street do not have a quota system in place. For that reason they do not have a moral or legal obligation to honor it. If you do send your CV to one of these so called smaller companies who don’t have a quota system in place then there’s a good chance your CV will go straight in the bin. It sounds really unfair but that’s the way it is.
Is it worth disclosing your disability on your CV?
From experience, I can tell you that you need to think very carefully about disclosing your disability on your CV. From a moral point of view you’re not being dishonest by not stating your disability – in many cases it will become apparent at the interview. Remember, the purpose of your CV is to promote your skills and experiences not your limitations. Even if you don’t see your disability as a limitation (I’m sure most people don’t) an employer probably will. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast and not all employers comply with government legislation or have a moral conscience. Unlike application forms which are legal documents, a CV is not so you are under no obligation to mention your disability. If you’re really adamant about disclosing your disability or feel that you have a moral obligation to, you can mention it later on in the application process.
Working with people who have learning difficulties has opened my eyes to the ignorance and stereotypical views that still exist amongst a small minority of people in our society. I remember an incident not so long back that reinforces this negative perception people have about people with disabilities. I was waiting for a bus and two youths shouted obscenities at one of my clients, “There’s that kid from that spastic society around the corner”. I’ll tell you something, my blood was boiling and it was just as well my bus came otherwise I would have given them a piece of my mind.
It is incidents like this that reaffirms my belief that people are and will always remain ignorant and ill-informed about people with disabilities. What I heard that day was shocking and will reverberate in my mind for many years to come. The surprising thing is that we are in the 21st century and information about disabilities whether it’s physical or mental is always readily available. Most of these people who have these negative views don’t have regular contact with someone with a disability and any experience they have of them is usually misconstrued and limited to what they read in books, see in the media, and are told by friends and family.
Are employers’ different in the way that they view disability?
Unfortunately, employers are no different and as I’ve highlighted over and over again when employers read through CV’s they look for reasons to reject your CV rather than reasons to accept them. If your CV is longer than two pages and has a fancy border – it’s going in the bin. If you use an inappropriate email address – your CV is going in the bin. If you have a disability or criminal conviction– yes you’ve guessed it, your CV is going in the bin. My advice is, if you don’t have a legal obligation to disclose your disability, then don’t. If you do, then you’re just giving the employer another reason to reject you.