Navigating a job search, dealing with interviews and disclosing Dyslexia to your workplace or a prospective employer
Pursuing a dream job can be challenging for anyone, but what happens when you throw dyslexia into the mix? Once you find a job, it might be difficult to know how best to speak to your employer about your dyslexia, particularly if you’re not sure how it’s going to affect you in your role.
We met Devinia Malcolm, a business psychologist from London, in our previous article, when we heard about her experiences of reacting to a diagnosis of dyslexia as an adult.
Now pursuing a career she loves, Devinia shares her experiences of job-hunting and disclosing her dyslexia to employers.
Devinia has achieved a lot by the age of 27 by anyone’s measure, having achieved a 2:1 in her Psychology degree, and now studying for a masters alongside a full-time job. She has worked hard and believed in herself, but she explained that it hasn’t always been easy, particularly when she was applying for jobs. “Sometimes I just thought, ‘I can’t do that job — I’m not smart enough.’ Psychometric tests put me off. I thought I’d fail. I avoided graduate schemes because of this”. Despite this aversion to psychometric tests, Devinia was confronted with one during the selection process for her current role: “Obviously I passed, and it has reinforced in me that I can do it!” Devinia explained that she has researched a lot into dyslexia, what it means, and how she can help herself and it’s made a big difference just having an awareness of these things. “My outlook has definitely changed and I’m more confident.”
Interviews can be one of the most challenging elements of the job-hunting process, particularly when it’s a job you really want. It’s a difficult situation for everyone, let alone when you add dyslexia into the mix. Devinia has some great advice for preparing: “Trying to memorise questions and answers just do not work for me; I stumble over my words or get tongue-tied and panic. My advice is to focus on remembering the key points of what you want to say, for example using acronyms and mnemonics to help you remember the points”. Writing or drawing out key points on flash cards can also be helpful. “I found mock interviews helped too. I asked my family and friends to interview me. I did role play with lots of different people. It helped me to anticipate different questions and different perspectives. It also helped me to feel more confident. Tell yourself positive affirmations as well. I gave myself a pep talk in the toilets. I told myself ‘You’ve got this. You can do this’. And get into the right frame of mind with a power pose!”
“Tell yourself: You’ve got this. You can do this”.
When interviewing for her current role, Devinia chose to openly disclose her dyslexia. Choosing whether to disclose a neuro difference such as dyslexia can be a difficult decision. “I have never experienced any difficulties when I’ve disclosed my dyslexia. I usually put it in the application, often answering a question like, ‘What difficulties have you had to overcome?’ I’ve never had a negative experience. For this job, it was absolutely fine. I think it helps that I’ve chosen a career where compassion and empathy are important. However, in my job, I see a lot of individuals working for big corporate companies who have also had good experiences, and are really well supported, so that’s really encouraging.”
Devinia explained that she did have a negative experience when working with a past employer: “I made little mistakes and they weren’t understanding about it. My manager and the organisation just did not know how to support me. In hindsight maybe I should have opened a dialogue with them and talked to them about it, but instead I left.” Sometimes an employer may just be unaware of how they can support someone with dyslexia. Approaching a manager to talk about it can be scary, but often you can gain in the longer term.
Devinia explained that she feels very supported in her current role and she is glad that she disclosed her dyslexia when she did. She has felt completely supported by her colleagues.
Written by Abigail Tew, Junior Assistant Psychologist & Case Manager at Lexxic
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