How to position dyslexia as a strength during a job search

How to position dyslexia as a strength

Dyslexia influences as many as one in five people across the world. From award-winning director Steven Spielberg to founder of Virgin Group Richard Branson to Olympic gold medallist Caitlyn Jenner and lawyer and advocate Erin Brockovich, some of the most successful people are dyslexic – and credit their career achievements to their learning difference. Hear from some of the world’s most successful dyslexics.

Dyslexic individuals are well-positioned and well-skilled to succeed in today’s workplace as every industry is being disrupted by new technologies, automation and machine learning. The tasks dyslexic individuals typically find more challenging – spelling, reading and memorising facts – are increasingly being done by machines, while soft skills that dyslexic applicants possess – like seeing the big picture and problem-solving – are valued in today’s workplace.

“Dyslexic minds have exactly the skills we need for the workforce of tomorrow” – Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

But to climb the career ladder, one must first successfully navigate the job search. Unfortunately, many dyslexic job applicants believe that traditional recruitment processes put them at a disadvantage and don’t give them an opportunity to showcase their abilities, according to our new survey in partnership with Made by Dyslexia.

Here are three ways that dyslexic applicants can improve their job search by positioning dyslexia as a strength.

Rethink your CV

Our recent survey found that more than 99% of dyslexic individuals agree that they have valuable 21st century skills such as creativity, communication skills and critical thinking. Your CV is the perfect place to highlight those skills.

When writing or editing a CV, it’s important to consider the perspective of the recruiter who will review it. He or she quickly scans CVs to determine if a candidate could bring value to an organisation. Because many dyslexic individuals feel their employers have a poor understanding of the strengths associated with dyslexia, you should use your CV copy to concisely spotlight dyslexic thinking skills and highlight career achievements.

It’s also crucial to have a friend or family member double-check your CV for spelling errors – particularly words that spell-check won’t catch, says Ellie Green, jobs expert at Totaljobs. She’d like to see more employers take dyslexia into account when assessing applicants.

“It’s important to remember that there is a whole set of norms which shape how we ‘should’ write a CV, but these aren’t necessarily conducive to accessibility and equitable recruitment, particularly for candidates with dyslexia, for example,” Ellie says.

Impress in the introduction

Throughout a job search, you will have many opportunities to showcase your strengths – especially during an interview. The introduction portion of the interview is the ideal time to engage the recruiter or hiring manager. To stand out among other candidates from the get-go, tout four or five skills that directly apply to the position you’re interviewing for. After all, one of the first questions in an interview is ‘Can you tell me about yourself?’

To improve the outcome of an interview, here are the top skills employers are looking for that correspond closely to the skills of dyslexic thinkers:

  1. Accountability, reliability and discipline
  2. Initiative-taking
  3. Resilience, stress tolerance and adaptability
  4. Reasoning and problem-solving
  5. Leadership and social influence
  6. Critical thinking and analysis
  7. Teamwork and collaboration
  8. Originality and creativity
  9. Curiosity and active learning.

Strengthen your storytelling

Many employers could be missing out on exceptional talent because they are not aware of the strengths people with dyslexia can bring to the position. Because people with dyslexia are not all the same and their strengths differ, it’s important for candidates to take assessments that can help them and prospective employees better understand their skill level. Once they determine this, candidates should prepare for interviews by having three to five stories that show the value they, as a dyslexic employee, will bring to the workplace.

During interviews, use storytelling to highlight six distinct skills that dyslexic individuals are predisposed to excel in:

  1. Communicating – crafting and conveying clear and engaging messages
  2. Imagining – creating an original piece of work, or giving ideas a new spin
  3. Visualising – interacting with space, sense, physical ideas and new concepts
  4. Exploring – being curious and exploring ideas in a constant and energetic way
  5. Connecting – understanding yourself and others and the ability to empathise and influence
  6. Reasoning – understanding patterns, evaluating possibilities and making decisions.

Despite these skills, dyslexic individuals do face certain challenges during the interview process that other candidates don’t.

John Walker, a job applicant with dyslexia often has problems with interpreting questions and writing too slowly. “I can read a question one way and it would mean something to me, but every other person on the planet could read it and then get a completely different question,” he said. Candidates can overcome these obstacles by not shying away from disclosing dyslexia to recruiters so they can help make necessary adjustments to the process, such as receiving extra time to answer questions and the ability to take notes during the interview.

During today’s talent shortage, employers are scrambling to recruit talent with the skills they need for post-pandemic recovery. Seven in 10 employers globally report difficulty hiring, which is the highest at any point since ManpowerGroup first asked about talent shortage in 2006. Now is the time for dyslexic job seekers to shine by showcasing their strengths and the in-demand skills they will bring to a role.

To learn more, download the Dyslexic Dynamic report.

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