If employment was simply about having someone with the relevant experience and qualifications, employers would never need to interview. Together with experience and qualifications employers are considering a range of things like ‘Will the person be reliable and accountable, will the person contribute to the team, are they a problem solver, how do they approach learning, how do they prioritise work or deal with conflict, what value can they add etc?’ When applying for a job you need to provide examples of how your study, work experiences and personal qualities match employer’s requirements. Employers want to understand how job applicant’s skills and experiences meet the job requirements but also assess any risks, real or perceived, that may impact on their ability to do the job before determining if they want to employ that person.
For example, gaps in employment or study, limited experience in a specific role, regular job changes or disability may all impact on how an employer perceives the applicant’s personal qualities and ability to do the job. Whatever your circumstances are, the most successful are often those that understand how to communicate their strengths, understand the concerns employers may have and proactively minimise (real or perceived) risks. Acknowledging it is the right of all job seekers to decide when and who they share their personal information with, it is worth considering the importance of proactively discussing any impacts on your abilities to perform a role.
Every person has strengths and weaknesses. How we highlight our strengths and provide solutions for perceived weakness or risk, decreases the likelihood of any confusion and reduces any concerns the employer may have. Taking the opportunity to offer solutions to perceived risk demonstrates confidence in your abilities, problem-solving skills and respectfulness to meeting the employer’s needs. Each person's circumstances are different and all examples on these pages, are simply to create and develop thinking around proactive approaches, should you decide to share your information and solutions to address any possible impacts for ability to do the job.
You have the ability to influence how employers perceive the pros and cons of employment by discussing benefits in a way that outweighs perceived risks.
For example, working in teams often requires us to have a sense of humour, if you have one. Showing it and how you approach things in a positive and proactive light, can also be interpreted a real strength. Such as, 'I am one of the lucky people in the workplace I get to let everyone know that I am a ‘VIP’ (Visually impaired person) and because I am a VIP, staff always enjoy working with me'
We all develop skills and strengths differently, due to our own experiences. If you have a disability or a long-term health condition, you will have gained additional strengths as a result of having to adapt and manage your condition. Learning how to communicate these strengths from a proactive base, will help a potential employer see how you approach things and the type of personality you have.
Here are a few examples, just to get you thinking about how you might highlight your own skills and qualities.
'Through my study and volunteer work I have always demonstrated my ability to write high quality documents including editing and presenting documents in various formats suitable for diverse customer’s needs. I have used Microsoft Office accessibility features and assistive technology for many years, these help me to complete administrative tasks. I have always met deadlines in my course and voluntary work despite the additional time it can take me to read and edit documents. Having low vision, I have gained the ability to and have proven skills in prioritising work and negotiating deadlines if needed.'
Some employers know little about accessing assistive technologies that enable people with disability to do their job more efficiently or safely.
Discussing assistive technology requirements with employers in an interview could look like this:
'To achieve the results you need, I would use a desktop video magnifier and a read easy machine, which is provided at no cost to you through the Royal Society for the Blind or JobAccess. This equipment ensures that I am fully set up to be able to complete the work requirements to high standards.'
'I am very focussed on contributing positively to a team environment and meeting work expectations. I have lived with anxiety for many years, which motivated me to improve my self-management and communication skills to achieve my study and work goals. My self-management strategies have helped me recognise the signals leading up to feeling anxious, which prevents my anxiety from rising and minimises the impacts. Recognising the signs allows me to communicate to my supervisors that I may need their help to prioritise to achieve deadlines. For example, rapid changes in workloads can increase my anxiety. Open communication from managers of future work changes assists me to organise my work and adapt to change. My referees will confirm that I am dependable and contribute positively to an organisation and the team environment.'
'I had a back injury several years ago and this was a very challenging time of my life. I needed a lot of determination and commitment to regaining my back strength while completing my Certificate III in Cyber Security with the aim of successfully gaining work in this area. My injury provided me an excellent opportunity to reassess my future and redirect my working interests. Moving into Cyber Security and completing my Certificate III has been a fantastic journey and I am very keen to demonstrate my capabilities and rebuild a career in this field. I am also very aware of how to manage my injury and it no longer impacts my ability to work. I use an ergonomic desk and chair and I do not have any limitations on meeting work priorities and job requirements. If I am successful in gaining this job, JobAccess can provide the ergonomic equipment I need. JobAccess is a government funded service that provides employers funding for reasonable adjustments and accommodations.'
If you think you should have made it to the interview, but you did not, it might be worth getting a second opinion on your application. When employers risk assess at the application stage, they will usually err on caution. If something is perceived as a risk, they might not be prepared to take the chance and therefore don’t progress the applicant to interview. It is important to put your best foot forward so:
If you are not sure how you might approach your own personal circumstances, the Student Success and Wellbeing team at TAFE SA are here to support and assist you.
Freecall 1800 882 661