If there is one thing that I have a lot of experience in it is looking for a job & doing job interviews!
I graduated in 2009, slap bang at the start of the recession (typical) :-(. It was difficult for anyone to get a job let alone someone with a disfigurement or disability. If anybody says or thinks that people with a disfigurement or disability are not discriminated against in the job market they are on a different planet. It does happen! It happened to me, not regularly but it did happen. The sad truth is you need to be 10 times better than a ‘normal’ person to be considered equal, especially at the start of your career.
Like a lot of other graduates I spent the first year after graduation on the dole and being knocked back over & over again. I had interned in Washington DC for a few months after completing my finals so that helped me in being selected for interviews. Getting past the interview stage was impossible though!
I won’t say that i was turned down for every role as a result of my scars, I’m sure there were better candidates & we were in the middle of a global recession!! I did have bad experiences though, interviewers sitting with mouths open when i walked in, 30 minute interviews lasting 5 minutes because the interviewer couldn’t concentrate on anything but my face.
Eventually I got lucky as I was given a contract, in the college where I completed my Law degree, as a Tutor for a few months which I really enjoyed (I wasn’t very good though). After that I was given a 3 month contract in Ryanair processing refunds (as a result of the volcano erupting in Iceland). I then ended up in the legal department of a Fund Administrator for 6 months (on Job Bridge before there was Job Bridge) & then a few months in the Department of Justice (again working for free). The market was so bad at the time that even getting someone to let me work for them for free was difficult 😉
From there I got my first PAID role in Compliance in a Fund Administrator & since then i have had 7 contract in 7 different companies, the longest lasting for a year. This meant looking for a new job & doing a new round of interviews every 6 months (on average). I must’ve had close to a hundred interviews over the last 7 years, no exaggeration. I have been in my current role for 15 months & it is permanent so hopefully I won’t have to do any interviews for a long time!! 🙂
It has gotten a lot easier over time due to me having a lot more experience & even though it might not seem like it there are a lot more jobs than there were 6 years ago, I received 3 job offers the last time I was looking!
A few interview tips I have come up with over the years are:
- Body language – this is so important, if you act confidently and act like you deserve the role then the interviewer will too. Fake it until you make it as I always say.
- Don’t be intimidated – the person interviewing you is just a person at the end of the day & they have probably had to do a lot of interviews too so will understand if you are nervous.
- Eye Contact – this indicates that you are confident and are able to interact with people.
- Listen to what the interviewer is saying. – No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t listen or can’t direction
- Don’t memorise answers – I have always performed better in interviews where I was natural & thought about the answers I was giving.
A question I get asked a lot is whether i make an interviewer aware of my scars before an interview and the answer is no, i have never mentioned it, I don’t see why I should. If an interviewer isn’t professional enough to deal with it then I don’t want to work for them anyway. I also don’t mention my scars in an interview, I don’t see how it is relevant I am not interviewing to be a model. It is totally up to each person though, I can understand why some people would mention it.
The most important thing is don’t give up & apply for everything! It took me 5 and a half years and 10 contracts to get a permanent job but I got there eventually.
Look at me being all positive 🙂