Equality issues

Disclosing equality

It is important that through the application and interview process you are able to do your best and not feel discriminated against.

If you do feel that you have been discriminated against or asked inappropriate questions, please come and talk to us at the Careers Service. You can book an appointment with us or send us a query in Career Connect via MUSE. Alternatively, you may prefer to ring us on: 0114 2220910. 

if you are applying for work or further study, the recruiter should not ask you about:

  • age
  • gender or sexual orientation
  • disability (unless you wish to disclose this yourself)
  • marital status or dependents
Disclosing a disability

There are no legal requirements for you to disclose your disability/dyslexia to a prospective employer either at the application stage or at interview. However – in some instances this might be of benefit to you as a candidate.

If for instance you feel that due to your disability the academic results which you have achieved are not a true reflection of your ability you may wish to explain this. If the additional time and effort which you have had to devote to keeping on top of your academic study has been detrimental to your participation in extracurricular activities, this could be worth mentioning.

How and when to disclose a disability is a fairly complex topic, and you may find it useful to discuss this with a careers consultant who can help you highlight the positive aspects of your situation i.e. your determination, persistence, etc.

How can I explain my lack of relevant experience?

If due to your disability there have been additional obstacles which you have faced in having the time or opportunity to gain relevant work experience, this is something which you might wish to address in your applications and at interview. For example, even if you haven’t got any relevant work experience you can use examples of your achievements from your academic study, leisure activities, student societies and any voluntary work you’ve undertaken.

Positive self-marketing

If you choose to disclose your disability at the application stage or at interview it is important to highlight the positive aspects of your situation. Think about your personal qualities. Progressing through university despite any obstacles you might have faced is strong evidence of your determination, resilience and commitment. You might like to refer to some of the coping strategies which you have developed and alternative ways of working which you have perfected.

Depending upon the area of work which you aspire to, your ability to empathise with other people facing challenges in their day-to-day life could also be worth highlighting.

If you are dyslexic it is likely that you will have benefited from the use of a range of specialist software programmes, which you may well have had to teach yourself to use. One of your strengths may also be your ability to see the ‘the bigger picture’ and to think laterally.

Dyslexic individuals are often found to excel in the fields of art, design, engineering and architecture and to demonstrate intuitive problem solving skills.

Reasonable adjustments within the application

In many countries, employers have a duty to ensure that you can apply for jobs in the same way as someone who’s not disabled. ‘Reasonable adjustments’ to the selection process might typically include the provision of materials in an alternative format; extra time when completing psychometric tests or written exercises; ensuring that the appropriate IT equipment or software is available; or to the services of an interpreter, etc.

Depending upon your personal circumstances, it may well be possible to negotiate with a prospective employer for suitable adjustments to be made. This is however at the discretion of each employer, within the requirements of the law.

Reasonable adjustments within the workplace

Current UK legislation requires employers to make appropriate changes to enable disabled people to work. These are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ and can include:

  • Making changes to the building or premises where the person works
  • Changing the way in which the work is done
  • Providing equipment to help the person do their job

If you need any special arrangements in order to participate fully, make sure that you have discussed this with the employer well in advance. If you have been in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) it is likely that you will have a Learner Support Plan (LSP), which made recommendations about appropriate support within for your academic studies. This can provide a useful starting point when considering the type of support which you may benefit from within the workplace.

Most adjustments don’t cost anything - just a change in attitude. For others that do involve a cost, the UK Government ‘Access to Work’ scheme administered through Jobcentre Plus can help you.

This website holds opportunities and careers advice from disability confident employers. It also includes tips on writing CVs, covering letters and applications.

Criminal record

If you have ever been convicted of a criminal offence or cautioned by the police you may be unsure about whether or not you should disclose this fact when applying for jobs or for certain types of professional training. You may also be concerned about the likely effect of such disclosure.

The appropriate course of action will vary according to the nature of the offence, the type and length of sentence and the area of employment in which you are interested.

If you are unsure of your options, we suggest you book an appointment to speak to a careers consultant. Appointments can be booked up to a week in advance via Career Connect within MUSE.

Any information that you wish to discuss will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Targetjobs have also produced a guide to support you if you have questions concerning your criminal record.

Sexual orientation

If you have questions about whether or not to disclose your sexual orientation as part of the application or interview, you may wish to come and talk to a careers consultant.

Book an appointment up to one week in advance by logging in to Career Connect via MUSE. Any information that you provide will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Targetjobs have produced guidance to help you consider your options.

Mature students

Whilst it is against the law for employers to discriminate against job applicants on the grounds of age, it is still up to older graduates to market themselves effectively and persuade employers that they have qualities which younger applicants do not.

In particular, emphasise:

  • skills gained from previous employment, even if this was in a series of 'non-graduate' jobs.
  • skills gained from other life-experiences (e.g. involvement in voluntary work or balancing the demands of higher education with family responsibilities). the boldness, ambition and adaptability that you have demonstrated by deciding to enter higher education as a mature student.
  • the fact that your age makes it more likely that you will 'stick with' an employer instead of wanting to move on after a year or two in the job.

It is important to be positive when approaching employers (e.g. always mention positive reasons for entering higher education instead of emphasising dissatisfaction with previous employment).