October 4, 2017
Finding a job is hard. Deciding that your current work or workplace need change is difficult. For everyone. But people with developmental difficulties can find these challenges even harder than others. Not only the application process poses many difficulties, such as writing a CV or statement of motivation, interviews or assessments – it is often already hard to identify a job you and skills fit into well. The following tips, strategies and resources may be helpful in navigating the complicated field of looking for jobs, making a career change and finding work.
It is more likely that you will be successful in a job or field of work that you genuinely enjoy. To find out what might be the right job for you, have a think about what topics you enjoyed in school for example, what was easiest for you in school, what are strengths that others see in you, what are you good at in your work, leisure or education? There are more strategies and questions available on this website discussing careers for people with ADHD but they apply to every learning difficulty.
Once you know what you want to do, it is also important to think about the environment in your potential new career. You should consider aspects such as stress, social pressures at work, what accommodations you would need your boss to make for you so can carry out your work successfully and what skills the job will ask of you. Temple Grandin published this list of tips for people with ASD to help them identify what to look out for in their career. For example having a well-defined endpoint or goal for your work, or a boss who recognises your social difficulties and can accommodate for them may be very helpful characteristics for your future career.
Sometimes even getting as far as the interview stage can be hard. When writing your application, try to focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. And make sure to point out the positive aspects of your learning difficulty, for example great problem-solving skills, adaptability and your coping skills for difficult situations. If you struggle with social communication, it may be helpful to put your previous work at the centre of your application rather than your personality. It will be easier to talk about your past successful projects than trying to charm others into hiring you.
If anything on an application form or while writing your motivational statement seems unclear to you, as well as during the interview, ask. This will not only show your interest in the position but will also give the employer a chance to get a first picture of you without the pressure of an interview situation. This website for people with dyslexia looking for jobs might help with some further tips on how to compose a good application highlighting your skills and strengths.
Interviews can be very stressful and to prepare for them is essential. Practise with someone you trust to answer questions like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?”, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “What do you wish to achieve in this job?”. Remember to always put a positive spin on things you find difficult: While it can be helpful to acknowledge your difficulties and self-reflect, always remember to point out how you are working to improve your skills and your work. Additionally, simple tricks such as researching where exactly you need to go, giving yourself lots of time to find it, asking questions in advance about the format of the interview or during the interview about anything you do not understand may be very helpful. Have a look at this website with tips for applications and interviews for people with dyspraxia and other learning difficulties.
If you are struggling to find jobs on your own or how to get adjustments implemented in your workplace, it may be worth to think about who could help you. The Dyscovery Centre offers workplace assessments, consultations and individual support to help you in your work. There are also many other organisations across the UK who support people with learning difficulties in their employment. For people living in Wales, CareersWales may be a good starting point to finding help for example. Learning difficulties can be classed as a disability, which opens doors for even more support, for example through your local Jobcentre or Jobcentre Plus. The Dyspraxia Foundation also provides a list of other helpful organisations that can support you when looking for employment or with issues in the workplace.
The Dyscovery Centre offers workplace assessments and support to adjust your workplace to your needs. We can also offer support and counselling if you are looking for work, want to develop your skills or need general advice on how a learning difficulty can affect your working life.
This is an ongoing series of how developmental difficulties can affect working life and how to tackle them. Look out for the next article!
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