disability, Employability, employers

What to do if you have a conditional job offer but need to retake your exams due to your mental health

Graduate employers sometimes make job offers on condition of securing a certain final grade, such as an upper-second (2:1). If you need to retake your exams it can be confusing to know what to do.

In this instance, the employer may not be technically discriminating against you by withdrawing the job offer as the conditions of the job offer have not been met. To avoid this happening, it is best to have an honest conversation with the employer to explain your circumstances and try come to an arrangement that enables you both to move forward

Be clear about what you want from the conversation as the employer maybe understanding and flexible, for example if you can still start the job on the original agreed date or a later date. Focus on finding a solution that works for both the employer and you as this focus will help towards ensuring a positive outcome for everyone involved.

Your preparation for having this conversation may vary according to whether you have already told the employer about your mental health condition or not. If this is the first time you are discussing your mental health condition, there are resources available to help you do this. You may also want to consider how your mental health condition will impact you at work, as the employer may well ask.

Before you have this conversation, it is worth taking the following steps:

1) Get clarity on whether your mental health condition is classified as a disability under the Equality Act 2010:

  • There must be a substantial (more than minor, not trivial), adverse impairment in relation to daily activities.
  • The difficulty should be long term (has lasted or may well last 12 months).
  • The cumulative effects of a mental health difficulty may combine to render its total effect ‘substantial’.
  • Difficulties that are episodic in nature are covered, if they are likely to reoccur.
  • A person who has recovered from a mental health difficulty also remains protected by the Act if the difficulty is likely to reoccur.
  • A person does not need to show that the adverse effects impact on any particular capacity (e.g. memory or concentration).

2) Be clear about what support and adjustments you will may need in the workplace so you can discuss with the employer as appropriate. If you are unsure, think about the adjustments and support you had during your studies as a starting point, and as appropriate share with the employer. If your mental health challenge is classified as a disability then legally your employer has an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to support you.

3) Write down why you want the job and key points you made about yourself in the application process (including interview). This will help you reassure the employer (if needed) that you are strongly motivated for the job and have a lot to offer.

4) Arrange an appointment with your career service before you speak with the employer so you can clarify and get feedback on what you want to say. You can also book an appointment after you’ve spoken to the employer to discuss your next steps.

– Christian Jameson-Warren

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disability, employers

Research into the positive effects of hiring disabled people

Accenture  have conducted research into companies that “embrace best practises for employing and supporting more persons in their workforce” in the USA. 

This can be found at https://www.accenture.com/us-en/company-persons-with-disabilities.

The report indicates that companies who employ and support disabled people “on average over the four-year period, 28 percent higher revenue, double the net income and 30 percent higher economic profit margins than their peers.”

Key takeaways include:

  • Access to new suppliers, innovative solutions and cost savings through increased competition
  • Awareness of diverse customer needs, increased market share and shareholder value
  • Brand enhancement and recruitment/retention of employers who want meaningful work.

Christian Jameson-Warren

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Confidence, disability, Employability, interviews

Balancing job searching and mental well-being


Posted on October 11, 2018 by Christian Jameson-Warren

Being a full-time student trying to balance different commitments and expectations can weight heavily on you. As part of marking the recent World Mental Health Day, below are some steps to help you manage the weight of searching for a job as a student.

1) Get clarity on your direction

It’s easy to mistake being busy for being productive. You only have a set amount of time and energy, so knowing where to focus your job searching efforts will help you maximise your efforts and reduce unnecessary work and pressure. This includes understanding what motivates you, what skills you’d like to use in a job, what sort of work environment you want and so on. You can book a Careers Consultation with your university’s careers service to get help with this.

Putting pressure on yourself to get a certain type of job because it will impress people or to make others happy can be unhealthy and adds unnecessary stress as you may be pushing yourself to do something that deep down you don’t want to do.

2) Recognise your strengths

Many people feel they are reasonably good at a variety of things, but really being clear about your key strengths (including attributes, skills, experience and so on) can help you focus your job searching efforts, choose suitable extra-curricular activities, accept when you make mistakes in other areas and respond positively to any setbacks. You may not be as good as someone else at one particular thing, but that’s okay because you have strengths elsewhere. Remember employers aren’t looking for someone who is perfect at everything, and increasingly value the different strengths that people bring to a team.

This process is also closely linked with job satisfaction, as being able to do things you’re good at will enable contribute more in the workplace and have increased job satisfaction.

Understanding your strengths can also help as part of separating your self-esteem from external factors, such as whether you get a prestigious job you wanted or not.

3) Break activities down into smaller parts and plan ahead

Plan your time a week at a time instead of just day-by-day. Think of all your commitments and activities in the upcoming week – lectures, coursework, societies, work and so on, and try to plan your time so you that activities that you find draining are balanced by periods of rest or doing something enjoyable. For example, if you are trying to network with employers but find it stressful and draining you could consider planning something fun in afterwards as a reward for trying and to build your energy levels up again.

If you have tasks that you want to put off or are stressed about because they seem overwhelming, try planning to do them in smaller segments throughout the week. Breaking activities into smaller parts can make them more manageable. For example, rather than trying to complete an application form in one night the day before it’s due, try doing sections over 3 days.

4) Understand where you need help

No one is good at everything, and at the same time no one person achieves a lot in life purely on their own efforts without the support of others. Acknowledging where and when you need the help of others can help you move forward quicker and also feel pressure or negative self-talk. For example, maybe you want to attend a careers fair but feel shy and worried that you’ll say the wrong things to the employers there. Speaking to your university’s careers about how to speak to employers can help you feel more confident rather than worrying excessively about this.

5) Listen to yourself

Sometimes you may feel you should be doing studying or working, but part of you just wants to relax or do something fun. Feeling like can cause you to procrastinate rather than get anything or properly relaxing – instead just feeling like you’re achieving nothing and not feeling any better.

This conflict is often caused by using the suppressing your emotions. Emotions often act as signals that something that you’re doing is or isn’t working. For example, maybe your emotions are indicating that you are trying to do too much, or that your approach to a particular task needs changing.

Taking regular time to pause and reflect on your emotions will help you be more balanced and successful in what you do. Of course there are times when you’ll need to force yourself to do something but relying purely on willpower all the time is not a healthy strategy.

6) Dealing with setbacks

Everyone experiences setbacks in their job search at some point. Following on from the previous point, whenever you experience a setback it’s important to acknowledge your emotions. Research shows that taking time to embrace and recognise individual negative emotions you are experiencing is more effective than trying to suppress them. As you take time to do this, you may also be able to better identify things you could change or do better next time you’re applying for a job. Setbacks are part of life – in many instances as human beings we learn more from when something went wrong rather than when it went right.

– Christian Jameson-Warren

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Commitment, Confidence, disability, Employability, employers, Schemes

The Disability Confident scheme explained

Familiar with Zbigniew Brzezinski (above)? No, neither was I. That said, he has a quote attributed to him which I very much agree with: “Commitment and credibility go hand in hand.” It’s with that in mind that I decided to find out more about the Disability Confident scheme, the logo of which I’ve seen on some company websites.

In all likelihood, either you haven’t heard of Disability Confident or you’re not sure what a company actually needs to do to be in this scheme.

If you have a disability, is it worthwhile applying to a Disability Confident employer?

Also, who are these employers?

Let’s answer these questions by first exploring

WHAT THE SCHEME DOES

The gov.uk website says that the scheme “supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to the workplace.”

It goes on to say that through Disability Confident “…thousands of employers are:

    • Challenging attitudes towards disability
    • Increasing understanding of disability
  • Removing barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions…”

Disability Confident image

SOME HISTORY

In 2016, the Disability Confident scheme replaced the “Two Ticks” scheme (sometimes referred to as “positive about disabled people”). Two Ticks was a scheme whereby an employer signing up would agree to follow five commitments, one of which was to interview any disabled applicant who met the minimum criteria for a job vacancy. The perception was that only some employers kept to their word, with many paying lip service to the commitments; this played a role in it being scrapped.

8347 AND COUNTING

According to the latest figures (taken from the gov.uk website, October 2018), there are 8347 employers across the UK that have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme. These include large companies and SMEs, ranging across a number of sectors.

This relatively new scheme has been met with scepticism from some quarters. One of the reasons for this is because of self-assessment. Let’s come back to that in a moment.

I hadn’t realised this but employers in this scheme are all at one of three levels:

Level 3: Disability Confident Leader (around 150 companies)

Level 2: Disability Confident Employer (roughly 3000 companies)

Level 1: Disability Confident Committed (about 5000 companies)

Therefore, the majority of employers signed up to this scheme are at the lowest of the three levels: Committed. To reach this standard, an employer does not need to have any external validation meaning they self-assess their own commitments. (Employers receive a template with some suggested criteria that they can fill out in order to keep a record, but this is just for their use). The same goes for the next level standard: Employer.

Those companies at Level 3 (Disability Confident Leader) do have external validation though and also have to evidence what they have done to meet this standard. They are few in number but seem to be particularly well-placed in terms of structures and may well be knowledgeable about, and have experience of, things like reasonable adjustments.

Organisations in this scheme benefit from being able to put the Disability Confident symbol on their website, giving the impression to their staff (and to the outside world) that they are positive about the area of disability and that they are keen to recruit and retain disabled employees.

We know that whilst individuals within companies may well have a commitment to disability (which is great) it’s actually something that needs to be institution-wide for the commitment to be long-lasting and for approaches to be changed for the better. The right policies and attitudes need to be in situ right across an organisation for disabled employees to feel valued and motivated.

The claim that through the Disability Confident scheme, thousands of companies are “challenging attitudes towards disability” is certainly bold. No doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of companies across the UK are indeed challenging attitudes towards disability, but not all of them will be signed up to this scheme.

INDICATION NOT A GUARANTEE

When I speak to a disabled student or graduate about their job search, I make the point that an employer who has the Disability Confident symbol on their website is an indication, but not a guarantee, that they are positive about employing disabled applicants and are committed to supporting their existing disabled employees.

 I would encourage students to look further:

    • Aside from having the symbol on their website, what else does that company do with respect to disability?
    • Does disability get a mention in their values?
    • What is at the heart of their Corporate Social Responsibility?
  • How many of their employees are disabled?

To find this out, students could contact the company HR / Diversity / Disability Department (if they have one), look on their website / social media platforms or speak to the company face-to-face at a job fair. This doesn’t mean the student needs to disclose their disability when they do this. It is reasonable for any applicant to want to research a company throughout the application process to get more information and see whether they think the company would be a good fit for them.

In addition to Disability Confident, The Business Disability Forum’s Disability Standard has a roll of honour  which lists companies that are deemed to be “disability-smart”.

A SYMBOL NOT JUST FOR DISABLED APPLICANTS

I take that view that whether you have a disability or not, if a company is signed up to (and hopefully committed to) schemes like Disability Confident, Stonewall etc. then it suggests the company may well be inclusive, open-minded and non-judgemental. These are values and traits that would appeal to all applicants and employees, irrespective of whether you have a disability.

Just because somebody has a disability, it doesn’t mean that they have to apply to an employer who is signed up to the Disability Confident scheme. However, it might be that a Disability Confident employer already has the structures, attitudes or infrastructure in place to be the right employer for that person.

A last word on “Zbig” (Zbigniew Brzezinski). It seems he was a noteworthy and interesting person. At the end of this article, he explains his novel idea about how extra time in football could be revamped .

Edmund Lewis, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of Westminster

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disability, Training course, Uncategorized

Leonard Cheshire Change 100: 3 months paid internship opportunities for disabled students

We wanted to make you aware of the Change100 employment programme. It is a programme for: ‘Talented students and graduates with disabilities or long-term health conditions — including physical, visual or hearing impairments, mental health conditions and learning disabilities and difficulties like dyslexia and dyspraxia.’

ABOUT CHANGE100

‘Change100 brings together the UK’s top employers and talented disabled students and graduates to offer three months of paid work experience…

Since its launch in 2014, Change100 has partnered with over 90 employers across the UK to host interns including Barclays, the BBC, Skanska, Lloyds and Taylor Wimpey…

Change100 aims to broaden the public’s understanding of what disability is, as well as highlight the fact many disabled students are talented, ambitious, and would thrive in all business sectors.’

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AND MENTORING

‘The key competencies which Change100 seeks to develop in its participants are customer focus, initiative, creative problem solving, communication, teamwork, resilience and time management…

Each participant is matched with a mentor, either in their own placement organisation or with another Change100 employer. Mentors are expected to dedicate at least six hours of time for six mentoring sessions across the programme year.’

WHEN DO I APPLY?

‘Applications for summer 2019 internships open on Monday 24th September’

WHERE DO I APPLY / REGISTER MY INTEREST?

You can find information on applying via the Leonard Cheshire support page

WHERE CAN I FIND FEEDBACK ON THE PROGRAMME?

The benefits of the programme can be found in statistics and testimonials

 

Edmund Lewis, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of West London

 

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disability, Strategy

Worried about starting a new job? Pick an approach that works for you

I wanted to share with you some thoughts that I have had about starting a new job.  Since finishing University 10 years ago, I have had 3 jobs. Although everyone’s experience of starting a new job is different, I think these tips will help to keep things in perspective:

  • We all experience the first day in a new job. Everybody goes through being introduced to new people and (usually) instantly forgetting everyone’s name. Worrying about what to wear and where you’ll be sitting are part and parcel of starting a new job.
  • The reality is that it’s the long-lasting impression that you give your colleagues and your manager that matters, not just the impression you give during the initial few hours on your first day.
  • I have noticed that becoming familiar with your workplace, getting to know the people you are working with, and grasping what you’re supposed to be doing every day is a gradual process that takes time.

Picking an approach

I can’t think of a job where managing your own time and showing a bit of initiative isn’t really important. Making sure you cover the basics during the opening days and weeks of your new job will help to ensure that you are making a positive start. These basics include:

  • Being on time.
  • Having the frame of mind where you want to learn and take on board new information.
  • Asking questions and asking for help if you need to.

It’s undeniable that we all have our own individual worries about the different aspects of starting a new job.

03-note-coffe-pen

My tip would be to focus on the 3 main worries you have before you start your new job. Pick an approach to deal with those 3 best you can, so instead of hoping they won’t come up, you will have thought of an approach to overcome those worries and you can start to focus on…

Your potential

Don’t overlook your strengths and potential to excel in your new role. It’s often easy to forget about the many great attributes that you have. Hard-working, loyalty, listening, perseverance, persistence, resilience and approachability are characteristics you already have that will help you overcome your worries about starting a new job.

Revisiting the job description, what you wrote on your application form or the answers you gave at interview are all ways of reminding yourself of your ability to do well in the job and can help you to identify your strengths and potential.

Do first impressions really count?

For most of us, we worry about how others might be viewing us when we first meet new people, particularly if that new person is a colleague or the manager.

It’s human nature to form an instant impression of someone when we first meet them. But that first impression will seldom be the same impression that we keep of that person forever…

Take my first impression of Dave. My first job after University was as a trainee Careers Adviser. I started that role alongside other people that I had never met before and, because we were all in training, much of the first weeks were spent together as a group.

On my first day, we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell everyone in the group a bit about our background. I was worried about this as I hadn’t had many jobs previously and had just finished University so didn’t feel I had anything particularly impressive to say. One of the first people to introduce themselves was Dave. He said…

“Well, before this I was working in the film and distribution industry.”

*When he said that, I remember thinking to myself that this person seemed confident and must have had good jobs in the past. I started rethinking what I should say when it was going to be my turn to introduce myself*

The trainer replied to Dave asking “The film and distribution industry -that’s interesting- what did that involve?”

With a cheeky expression on his face, Dave said, “Oh, I was serving popcorn and drinks in my local cinema.”

Remember the Picking an approach section in this blog? Well, thinking about it now, I’m pretty sure Dave (who is good friend of mine to this day) was nervous about meeting new people and was worried about being asked about what he had done in the past, in front of other people. He picked an approach that meant that he could deal with the situation in a way that worked for him.

Dave used humour, but the approach you pick might be to take some time away from your desk if you start to feel worried or anxious. It might be to read some positive words that you have written down, to call upon when you need to.

These approaches don’t cover all situations, but the important thing is to choose an approach that works for you.

It’s normal to feel unsure and to make mistakes when starting a new job. Everybody has their own apprehensions about it, but allowing yourself some time to get know new colleagues and reminding yourself of your strengths will really help.

Edmund Lewis, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of West London

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