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.


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.

That’s the end of this blog post but the eagled-eyed among you may have noticed that a few expressions and phrases have crept into this post…keep things in perspective, part and parcel, cover the basics…

Look out for a future blog post where I hope to untangle the confusing world of clichés and workplace jargon. Until then, thank you for reading this blog.

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

Training course

Not sure what is meant by the term “Non-visible Disability”?

Lacking knowledge or confidence when supporting students with a non-visible disability? Then this is the course for you!

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This AGCAS East Midlands Regional Training event will explore some of the issues facing students with a non-visible disability, and enable participants to share good practice and information resources.

The aim of this event is to increase participants’ confidence and knowledge when working with students with non-visible disabilities, and will cover the following –

  • What is a “non-visible” disability?
  • Positive self-marketing for students: role models, and examples of strengths and attributes of those with a non-visible disability.
  • Signs and symptoms of some of the more common non-visible disabilities.
  • Hints and tips for supporting students with a non-visible disability, including information resources.

There will be contributions from two university careers services (De Montfort University, Leicester and the London School of Economics) and a speaker with experience of overcoming a hidden disability to succeed in the workplace.

Some interactive group work will be included as well as the opportunity to share good practice and useful resources.

See the AGCAS website for booking details: http://www.agcas.org.uk/events/1293-Seeing-the-unseen-How-to-spot-and-support-students-with-non-visible-disabilities-Leicester

Alison Skellern, AGCAS Disability Task Group, DMU



What Happens Next 2015 Report

The latest edition of ‘What Happens Next: A Report on the First Destinations of Disabled Graduates’ is now available. This report compares the employment outcomes of disabled and non-disabled university leavers six months after graduation and draws upon the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey.

In the report (attached) we looked at:
– Disabled graduate destinations
– How they found their jobs
– Their reasons for choosing their jobs
– How well they felt university prepared them for their next career step

You can download the report here on the AGCAS website.

We hope you find it interesting and useful.

Mark Allen, Careers Consultant, Imperial College London



Autism and sensory sensitivity

For those who haven’t seen it before, I thought I’d share this video from the National Autistic Society which illustrates how distracting sensory sensitivity can be for people with autism and other neurological differences (this condition is common in people with autism, though of course not every autistic person has it – as you’ll see by the comments posted below the video!)

This video mainly illustrates sensitivity to sound, but as you may know, sensory sensitivity can also involve sensitivity to vibrations, light, colour, taste, smell, touch, texture, sight, etc. – or a combination of these.

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However, just to complicate things, some people with autism also have hyposensitivity, which is when someone is “under-sensitive” to stimuli and has trouble processing information through their senses. Again you can have a combination of hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity within an individual, and this can be impacted by context (e.g. stress).

Of course some people are able to take advantage of the sensitivity that neurological differences can bring, however I think the video cleverly highlights how difficult it can be to concentrate for some people with autism, and why you might find yourself repeating yourself many times to a student or graduate with autism, or why they might find job interviews, job fairs, assessment centres or careers meetings particularly stressful.

It’s very brief and you’ll need headphones on for the full effect.

NAS video – Autism and sensory sensitivity.

Claire Byron, AGCAS Disability Task Group, Newcastle University


Carrying out a disability audit of your careers service

When I agreed to write this blog article, I hadn’t actually been involved in a disability audit of a careers service. I thought this presented a great opportunity to get involved, and decided the best way to learn was to actually carry one out!

Sounds like a lot of work… why bother?

The Equality Act (2010) places an anticipatory duty to arrange reasonable adjustments to provide inclusive access to services for disabled people. Carrying out an audit will enable a careers service to take stock of what adjustments already exist, and where it could make further reasonable adjustments in anticipation of use by a disabled student or graduate. This proactive rather than reactive approach makes a service more inclusive and efficient, and could encourage more disabled students into the service.

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I started preparing for my audit by doing a bit of research. Firstly, I spoke to the careers team I work with, and also the University’s learning support team, to find out if anything similar had been done historically. It hadn’t. Lots had been done around supporting disabled students and graduates, but it had never really been drawn together and documented. Therefore it emerged that as well as highlighting what we needed to do to more of to support our disabled students and graduates, the audit presented a good opportunity to celebrate what we were already doing!

Next, I asked Disability Task Group colleagues if they had audited their careers service. I used a template disability audit document offered by a colleague from the University of Sheffield Careers Service, and tailored it for my organisation. After several years of using the template, my colleague now keeps an ongoing dialogue open with disability services at her institution, but I decided to go with the template for my first audit.

The broad headings recommended by the template were:

  • Access to the service: covering the statement of service, physical environment, publicity material, signage, adjustments e.g. hearing loop, work with other departments e.g. disability service, staff training, student feedback and monitoring
  • Information: covering alternative formats, disability relevant information in careers service materials, inclusive materials, disability friendly employer information, knowledge of appropriate support agencies
  • Student appointments: covering flexibility of appointment time, format and venue, knowledge of, and access to, interpreting services
  • Careers events: covering accessibility of premises, materials in accessible formats with information relevant to disabled people (attendees and exhibitors)

Carrying out the audit

Bringing together relevant people from your service, ideally the disability service and having student representation, will allow you to cover all areas being audited. I worked with a careers adviser, information officer, and employability manager to complete my audit, and asked a member of the student Disability Society to provide some feedback. The audit raised healthy and honest discussion, and as I had anticipated, provided the opportunity for people to say “Yes! We’re doing that!” and for it to be recorded. We also identified several actions we needed to complete – many of which would simply require the asking of a question. For example, we knew that a sign language interpreter could be organised, but none of us knew the process for doing so. Finding this out will allow us to provide a much more confident and efficient service should the request be made. Agreeing actions and timescales for completion is essential, as is setting a date to review progress. I aim to introduce the audit follow up to the team meeting agenda with a review of progress at the end of May.

Improving services for all students

Working with the adage ‘improving services for one group of students improves services for all students’, this was a worthwhile and holistic activity. It need not take a huge amount of time, and does not necessarily lead to a lot more work. What it does, is remind you what you are doing well as a service, and highlight how you can provide an even better service to your disabled students and graduates.

If you would like more advice on conducting a disability audit of your service, then get in touch with the AGCAS Disability Task Group.

Clare Worrall-Hill, AGCAS Disability Task Group, Careers Adviser, Liverpool Hope University


Training Day – Friday 10th April

AGCAS Disability Task Group is running a training event at Liverpool Hope University on Friday 10th April which focuses on ‘Guiding Disabled Students through the Recruitment and Selection Process’.

Although originally offered through the NW Regional Training Programme, as there are still a few places available, this is now open to Careers Service staff from across the UK. Topics covered during the day will include researching how disability positive an employer is; disclosing a disability; positive self-marketing and reasonable adjustments at each stage of the application and selection process and in the workplace.

The day will include input from members of the task group, the HR Manager from Liverpool Hope University, the National Autistic Society and Remploy.

Bookings will close on Wednesday 1st April and to reserve a place please contact Clare Worrall-Hill worralc@hope.ac.uk

Hilary Whorrall, AGCAS DTG.



Access to Work – Meeting the cost of workplace adjustments

Access to Work

Access to Work

Disclosing a disability to a potential employer can be daunting enough on its own but having to ask for costly adjustments such as assistive technology, adapted furniture, or support personnel can lead to additional anxiety or concerns for a disabled applicant.

Access to Work is here to help!

What is Access to Work I hear you shout? (Well actually I don’t as I am deaf but if you shout loud enough my ATW funded reporter will hear and pass the question on). So what is it, who gets it, how much can you get, and how do you access it?

What is it?

Access to Work (ATW) is a government scheme that will pay for most adjustments that are required once a person is in paid employment. It covers all paid employment including internships and work placements, full time and part time work, and permanent or temporary roles. It will even cover the cost of communication support at interview but it is worth noting that this is the only cost they will meet at interview stage.

There are a number of ways in which ATW can help. Examples include:

  • Paying for a support worker. Types of support might include reading to a visually impaired person, communication support for a hearing impaired person via a Sign Language interpreter, Speech to Text Reporter, Lipspeaker or Electronic Notetaker
  • Providing specialist coaching for a person with learning difficulties or helping a person with care needs
  • Special aids equipment to help a disabled person perform their role in the work place;
  • Adaptation to premises or to existing equipment
  • Help with the additional costs of travel to, or in, work for people who are unable to use public transport

Who gets it?

Access To Work is available for any disabled worker who meets the following criteria:

  • Has a disability or health condition that has a long term substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out their job
  • Is over 16 years old
  • Is in, or about to start, paid employment (including self-employment)
  • Normally lives and works in Great Britain, and
  • Is not claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance once they are in work.

As said this covers any type of paid employment regardless of length of contract, however, it does not cover people undertaking voluntary work or unpaid placements.

How much can you get and how do you get it?

It is important to submit an application for ATW support as soon as you have accepted a job offer as it can take some time for the adjustments to be sourced and implemented in the work place. The time in which you make a claim can also affect the amount of funding given.

ATW will pay up to 100% of costs for adjustments when the claim is made within the first 6 weeks of Employment and, additionally, will consider paying 100% of costs for the following support regardless of when the claim is made:

  • Additional costs of travel to work for people who are unable to use public transport;
  • Support worker or reader to assist in the workplace;
  • Communicator for support at job interviews.
  • The Mental Health Support Service

Additionally it will consider paying up to 100% of costs for self-employed people.

The level of grant will depend on whether the person is employed or self-employed, how long the claimant has been in their job, and the type of help required.

For those who have been in work more than six weeks and require support other than that listed above the employer may be asked to contribute up to 20% of the cost depending on the size of organisation.

The application process is relatively straightforward. The disabled employee makes the application by contacting the Customer Service Team on 0345 268 8489.   The team will take basic information and pass to an ATW Adviser. It is a telephone based service but alternative arrangements can be made if appropriate and required.

The ATW Adviser will contact the customer within 7 days to progress the application and discuss the support that may be needed in the work environment. Once support is agreed the customer will sign a Customer Declaration Form.

The Customer Service Team can be contacted on:

Telephone: 0345 268 8489

Textphone: 0845 608 8753

Email:  atwosu.london@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Viki Chinn, AGCAS Disability Task Group, LSE Careers.