Are you missing talent you don’t even know about?
For example, Darren is a 24-year-old who has some great communication skills and wants to be in sales. He has Dyslexia and Dyspraxia (DCD) which makes handwriting harder to do, and also he has some difficulties with spelling and will make some small errors if he is in a hurry.
Darren finds it very nerve wracking filling in forms online and takes time to do it. He needs to save the information online as he goes along, and then get it finally checked so he doesn’t make some small errors and the potential employer dismisses him as it may appear he doesn’t have the necessary skills for the job.
He recently tried to complete an online application and it ‘timed out’ twice just as he was nearly got to the end. He said he was nearly in tears and gave up.
Darren has great skills and would have been a brilliant addition to any team. In his last job, he was top sales man 2 months in a row!
The company he was applying to will never know!
What can you do to help?
- Check your website is accessible. Think about relevant search words that can be found. You may be missing out on talent if you don’t make sure you can support all!
- Think about the readability level of the content on your site– this may be important for easier reading for everyone, not just someone who may have dyslexia. Complex language may limit the number of applicants even though they could do the job. Can you check the readability statistics of your web content? This is built into Microsoft Office.
- If you are a larger organisation consider having ‘champions’ in your workplace that work differently and are successful so that other colleagues can ask questions and go to, and provide some support if necessary. Good role models tell others what is possible.
- When writing the job description look at the actual skills of the present workforce and see what they are doing.
- Does the job really need good communication skills or very high levels of literacy? Can you separate out the critical skills that are needed or consider job carving and separating out skills?
- Try to ensure the job description aligns to the job and doesn’t include skills or qualifications that the applicant doesn’t need.
- Does the job really need a degree to do it? You could be missing real talent and skills in someone who has taught themselves. Think about some self taught programmers that have learned to hack into a system! What about bloggers who have millions of followers and have great social media skills?
- Offer the person the potential to visit your place of employment before an interview in order to orientate themselves.
- Provide a point of contact – with name and telephone number/email so the person has someone to ask questions before the interview if needed.
- Produce job application forms and other written materials in an easier to read font style such as Arial, Comic Sans Serif – font size 12. Offer telephone completion.
- When writing information use short sentences and leave plenty of space between lines of text to make it easier to read.
- Avoid printing forms on bright white or dark paper and font a similar colour to the background.
- Let all interviewees know beforehand if there are specific tasks to be done and ask if they require any adjustments (separate room, additional time, use of computer or specific software that they usually use).
- Provide information in advance, where possible, timings (and stick to these where possible), explain the expectations of the person during the interview process, the format of the interview and expected outcomes of the interview in good time.
- Provide the address and time of interview and where possible also provide the names and roles of interviewers.
- Have online applications (with no handwritten letter necessary) but ensure they do not time out after a specific length of time.
- Consider a work trial as an alternative to an interview so the person can showcase their skills in a less formal environment.
- Are you a Disability Confident employer? This will give the applicant greater confidence to disclose if you show you are engaged in supporting people with disabilities. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/disability-confident-how-to-sign-up-to-the-employer-scheme