Learning not to let your learning disability limit you may come naturally to some. However, for others, a little voice may lurk in the back of your mind telling you that "you can't possibly apply for that!" Everyone experiences that annoying and self-doubting voice that chirps up every now and then. But if you've lived with a learning disability, you may be used to incessant comments regarding your ability from people who are perhaps ignorant of your difficulties. This blog post will hopefully help you push those comments and that irritating voice to the back of your mind and encourage you to apply, apply, apply!
1. Be organised
You're probably fed up of people harping on about organisation, but it has to be the starting point! A tidy room and a good plan means an organised mind. Whether you work best with a diary, a calendar on your phone or a bullet journal, it really doesn't matter. Just make sure you keep up to date. Write down absolutely everything. This could include application deadlines, deadlines for online assessments or personal deadlines you've set yourself regarding writing your CV or cover letter. It may seem like incredibly trivial advice but I generally find my dyslexia is amplified when I'm stressed and unorganised. Organisation aids confidence as you'll feel more in control, even if it is just writing out a deadline date.
2. Create a space
While your friend may be able to write a perfectly worded cover letter in half an hour, it may take you longer as you might be more particular with yourself. In order to speed up the application process and keep those fears under wraps, create a folder on your computer or a space in which to house all your applications and cover letters. That way, if something comes up that needs applying to imminently, you'll have something to refer to and should feel confident enough to apply.
3. Ask for help
Asking for help is honestly nothing to be ashamed of! In fact, it's very savvy. If you need advice on CV writing or how to approach a particular type of online test, seek out people to help. Discuss issues with your university careers department or consult online outlets which may offer some helpful advice. One website which offers some particularly relevant, tailored advice for dyslexics is the British Dyslexia Association. It's okay to admit you're struggling but don't let your worries stop you from applying or thinking you're not capable!
4. Putting pen to paper is not the only way
Have no fear, technology is here! I find I know exactly what I want to say but I just can't transfer my thoughts to the page and when I do, things can appear rather muddled. One way in which you can overcome this is by recording what you want to say using your phone and then playing it back whilst you transcribe it. Again, it may seem like a simple tip but it has really been a game changer for me and has enabled me to apply for things I never thought I could. While you may squirm at the sound of your own voice, the feeling of delight when your words appear nicely ordered on the page makes it all worth it.
The word every dyslexic dreads! Often it is simply the fear of coming across something wrong, or not knowing how to correctly spell a word that prevents you from finishing an application. But why should it? I know how frustrating it can be when you just can't get your words down, but I've learnt not to suffer in silence. Instead of giving up on an application and allowing your worries to win, seek out help and ask a close friend, family member or someone you trust to have a glance at your application. They may just find the accidental 'the' and encourage you to press send.
6. Learn when to declare
There is no requirement for you to inform an employer of your learning difficulty and it is really up to you. But before making a decision, assess the role you are applying for and carefully consider the application process. If for example there are assessment days, think carefully whether it would be helpful to have a little extra time (if this is something you usually require). Dyslexia can vary immensely in severity and type. Dyslexia Action suggests many of us have developed 'coping strategies', but they highlight that these can fall into jeopardy when you're stressed. Do what's right for you.
7. Remember your rights!
This is something which is incredibly important and perhaps an area which people are not always aware of. As Dyslexia Action highlights, 'employers have a duty to recognise dyslexia under the Equality Act 2010, if it is assessed as being a disability'. There is more information on this topic available on the Dyslexia Action and The Dyslexia Association websites, so maybe take a look if you need more info. Also, there is more detailed advice regarding equality and discrimination through ACAS.
8. Be confident!
The most important thing! Don't limit yourself; be confident. If you feel a job really suits you then apply! Put yourself out there and you will get where you want to go.
About the Author: Lydia Manley is a second year English Literature student at the University of Birmingham. She enjoys reading, writing her blog and singing in her university choir.