UCL Careers
  • Welcome

    The UCL Careers team use this Blog to share their ‘news and views’ about careers with you. You will find snippets about a whole range of career related issues, news from recruiters and links to interesting articles in the media.

    If you are a researcher, we a specific blog for you.

    We hope you enjoy reading the Blog and will be inspired to tell us your views.

    If you want to suggest things that students and graduates might find helpful, please let us know – we want to hear from you.

    Karen Barnard – Director, UCL Careers

    UCL Careers is part of The Careers Group, University of London

    Accurate at the time of publication
  • Want to contribute?

    Please read our Guest Blogger Policy

  • Government & Policy Week: Working in Policy Analysis & Think Tanks

    By UCL Careers, on 12 October 2018

    Guest blog from Andy Norman, Research Analyst at Centre for Progressive Policy

    Profile photo: Andy Norman, Research Analyst at Centre for Progressive Policy

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A job in policy analysis in a think tank can offer something special to those who are lucky enough to follow this career path: the chance to improve the lives of people up and down the country. Yet while it is always important to keep this ultimate goal in mind, the role of a policy analyst can be a few steps removed from the impact you are striving for. So if you want to see the direct impact on people’s lives on a daily basis that is often found in charity work or front-line services, then perhaps policy analysis is not for you. But what this job does offer you is an opportunity to make genuine improvements at a systemic level.

    The day to day role of a policy analyst in a think tank is varied. Much of the job involves researching a specific topic – for example, healthcare or education – identifying problems and coming up with innovative policy solutions. One day you could be pouring over government datasets to extract key insights, the next you could be leading a focus group seeking the opinions of members of the public.

    Coming up with practical, evidence-based policy solutions to some of society’s most complex problems, however, is really only half the job. The best think tanks work hard to ensure that their recommendations are actually implemented. A policy solution can be fantastic on paper, but if it never leaves the pages of a report then its impact will always be zero. That’s why a big part of what think tanks do is to work with policymakers throughout the process of researching and writing a report to make sure that the ultimate policy recommendations have a good chance of being effectively implemented.

    Unfortunately, think tank policy analyst vacancies are extremely limited and so competition is tough. A tried and tested route into the industry is via an internship, usually paid the living wage. But think tanks often receive hundreds of applications from eager graduates for their internships so learning how to stand out from the crowd is key. Proving that your analysis skills are top notch is of course important. But showing that you are able to think innovatively to find new solutions to stubborn problems is crucial. But, in the end, what think tanks want to see from their applicants is a belief in and commitment to the kind of societal and economic change they are working towards.

    While the work of think tanks can seem complex and confusing from the outside, the essence of what we do is actually very simple. Ultimately, those that work in think tanks analyse how the world is today, imagine how they want it to be in the future and devise policy solutions to provide a bridge between the two.

    Government & Policy Week icon showing Houses of ParliamentInterested in a career that makes a difference? Government & Policy week is your chance to hear from those working at the heart of government; people who influence policy; and leaders in the public sector.

     

    What’s happening?

    Monday 22 October 13:00 – 14:00: Intro to Policy: what are my options?

    Monday 22 October 18:00 – 20:00: Careers in the Heart of Government

    Tuesday 23 October 18:00 – 20:00: Influencing Policy

    Wednesday 24 October 12:00 – 14:00: Civil Service Workshop

    Thursday 25 October 18:00 – 20:00: Careers that make a difference 

    To find out more, visit the Government & Policy Themed Week page on our website and register to attend these events via myUCLCareers.

    From History Masters Student to Startup Project Manager

    By UCL Careers, on 21 September 2018

    ClickMechanic Logo

     

     

    This guest feature from car repair startup ClickMechanic shows us that your degree doesn’t have to dictate your job after university. Kurt, ClickMechanic employee and UCL alum shows us what skills you can transfer from your degree to your work. In his words:

    “I would tell everyone, choose your degree and career around what you love and have a real passion for.” Kurt – Project Manager, UCL Graduate: German Language and History MA

    Why UCL?

    “I came to UCL for two primary reasons: the course modules, which resonated strongly with my interests, and for the world-class lecturers. Further to that it was great to have the experience of living in another place for my postgraduate studies. I am glad I opted to come to UCL, it ended up being a great experience and offered a fantastic opportunity to kickstart my career.

    Due to the setup of the course there was a wide range of modules to choose from, and as such an opportunity to learn from lecturers with a variety of interests. All were very passionate about their subjects and had a wealth of knowledge to share. I could tailor my curriculum in the way that I hoped, focusing on twentieth century German history as well as sociolinguistics. Along the way I was also able to broaden my horizon by taking modules in European history and twentieth century modern art.

    With UCL being a campus university it meant it was easy to build connections with people  from all across the planet and hang out. An added bonus is of course being right in the middle of Central London. There’s a never-ending stream of things to do nearby, and not necessarily expensive if you knew where to go. It’s a great way to make a start with exploring this vast city.”

    Work after UCL

    “After graduating, I decided to stay in London for a little longer and actually managed to find another place to stay via someone I met at UCL. I got on with finding a role in marketing, a field I had already worked in prior to coming to UCL. On the job hunt, I swiftly found a role at ClickMechanic, the company I still work for. I actually found the job ad on Tumblr of all places and, with my enthusiasm for all things tech and automotive, decided to pursue it.

    My initial role was a general marketing position: creating copy for the site, managing social and email channels, handling the pay-per-click ads, and managing customer relations when needed. Being the first employee to join the founders and the only one with any in-depth technical knowledge of cars, meant that I was an integral part of building ClickMechanic’s quote engine, which I still work on to this day.

    My course at UCL centred around German language and history, which doesn’t exactly match up with the jobs I ended up pursuing but it’s clear my studies enabled me to refine a lot of skills that gave me an edge when looking for a position.

    Current role at ClickMechanic

    In my day to day now, as a Project Manager, I work on a variety of projects that necessitate a deep understanding of our product, customers and marketing principles. I help communicate between teams, taking a pivotal role in briefing our software developers on updates to our complex system to help push growth.

    In my role there is a lot of data to get my head around, both qualitative and quantitative. It’s the interpreting of all this data where my postgraduate studies at UCL has proven to be very helpful. As in doing postgraduate research, the amount of information and different types of information you have to interpret is complex in most growth-oriented marketing roles, and requires a real attention to detail.

    Understanding what is important and what isn’t helps to make informed data-driven decisions that ultimately make ClickMechanic’s product better. I help build the narratives around the data to explore, explain, and ultimately change things for the better with the evidence we assess. This data analysis is vital for many roles, especially in marketing. It’s clear for me that UCL helped nurture an analytical way of thinking, and contributed to building my career in marketing.”

    Need advice on what you want to do after graduating? UCL Careers can help.

    Visit our contributors website: ClickMechanic

    Career Lessons from Love Island 2018

    By UCL Careers, on 24 July 2018

    Remember that time we changed your lives with the three key career messages we took from last year’s Love Island? Well, it was such a great idea, it brought us such a lot of professional respect, and it gave us such an excellent excuse to watch Love Island at work*, that we thought we’d do it again before this year’s show comes to an end:

    1) Show me the evidence
    If you transcribed all of Georgia’s Love Island communications, uploaded them into NVivo or Wordle, and created a word cloud, it would look something like the below: 


     

     

    But did that convince us she was loyal or honest, babe? No. In fact, rather the opposite. It was her actions – staying true while Josh was in Casa Amor, leaving the villa with Sam – that eventually won us over.

    Although some may not like to admit it, employers are no different to Love Island viewers. They need evidence to be convinced. So what can you do? Well, it’s wise to use employer language in applications. If your target employer has asked for leadership skills, explicitly tell them when you’re talking about leadership skills. It makes their job easier. But rather than simply declaring what a fantastic leader you are in your own opinion, why not provide examples of how you used your leadership skills, and what you achieved with them? This evidence-based approach will help you feel more comfortable promoting yourself, and the employer feel more comfortable believing you.

     

    2) Negative experiences can be valuable

     Laura, Laura, Laura. Our hearts have broken for you not once but twice. Should you regret your missteps? Should you lament moments spent with Wes and New Jack as wasted time? No! For through those relationships you learned what you do not want, and that allowed you to see what you do want – a mature carpenter and model who has kissed Britney Spears – more clearly.

    When I speak to students and graduates about their past internship or placement experiences, they often view them as useful only if they turned out to be exactly the right role, with the right employer, for them. Of course that’s a wonderful result, but it’s not the only useful one. There is value in all of your past experiences as long as you take the time to reflect and draw it out. What was it you didn’t enjoy about a role? The task? The colleagues? The environment? And which elements did you enjoy? Exploring these questions is crucial in getting to know yourself, and deciding what your next step will be.

     

    3) A little role play can help

    Oh hell, when surfer New Laura entered the house, Dr Alex made a real hash of the one relationship that seemed to be working for him. But he saved it by role playing a first meeting at a bar with Alexandra, and now they’re living happily ever after together**.

    Maybe a little role play can help you too. Interviews are a crucial part of an application process, but they’re a relatively unusual scenario many people have limited experience with, especially in the earlier stages of their careers. So when you have an interview coming up, we advise getting as much practice as possible. Set up mock interviews with your friends and family, especially those who have knowledge of interviews and/or the field you’re entering. And book a mock interview with one of our careers consultants, who can help you role play in a safe setting, and then provide feedback to improve your performance for the real thing.

    *If my boss is reading this then obviously I’m totally joking

    **Correct at time of writing.

     

    Written by Sophia Donaldson, UCL Careers

     

    Five Tutoring Tips For Recent Graduates

    By UCL Careers, on 17 July 2018

    Robert Lomax is a teacher and author. He writes about education at RSL Educational.

    Whatever job you dream of, there’s a fair chance that you’ll find yourself doing a few other things along the way.

    One of the most common “along the way” jobs, particularly in London, is private tuition. It’s something that I started doing when I was a postgrad, just to keep the wolf from my door.
    I enjoyed teaching so much that I’m still doing it now.

    I’ve always had fun during my time as a teacher, but there are a few things that I wish I’d known when I started: things which would have made my work less stressful and more successful, and which I only discovered through making mistakes.

    I add more detail to some of these ideas in this article.

    1. Never stop making mistakes

    The natural instinct for any teacher is to be terrified of mistakes: you think that you need to be infallible, or you will lose your students’ respect.

    This could not be more wrong.

    Once children realise that their teacher is just as able to make a fool of themselves as they are, they discover that there isn’t a great wall standing between their state of ignorance and your adult knowledge: a wall they will have to fling themselves against for years before smashing through.

    Instead, they learn that it is possible to be a successful adult and still get things wrong. This is a tremendous motivation.

    On the one hand, the belief that anything short of perfection is a kind of failure can make children feel like giving up.

    On the other hand, a more skilful, more interesting version of their own imperfection can seem like a thing worth aiming for.

    Of course, if you are going to make mistakes, at least make sure that you …

    2. Always show your thought process

    The greatest gift that a teacher can give a child is not their expertise. A book will be able to offer the same information, and Youtube probably does too.

    The most important thing you have to offer is your way of thinking.

    Let your students see your mind in action! Let them explore your thought patterns, challenge them and copy them.

    One of the very best ways to do this is to work alongside your student. Rather than setting them a task and reading the newspaper for ten minutes, do the same work as them, at the same time.

    When you compare your answers – perhaps even marking each other’s responses – they will be inspired by the things that you do better.

    What’s more, on the rare occasions when they do something more effectively than you, it will be as motivating as any other experience in their school career.

    3. Don’t promise results

    There are no “supertutors” – just teachers, some of them with a few more tricks than others, and some with a better instinct for relating to children. Nobody knows the magic key which can ensure a particular outcome for a child.

    Promise to do your best, but be honest: don’t offer guarantees. In the end, only your student has the power to achieve what they want to.

    4. Be prepared to walk away

    Sometimes you won’t be the best teacher for a student you’re working with. If you start to realise this, don’t panic and struggle against it. It happens to all tutors sometimes, however experienced they are.

    Tell the child’s parents, explaining things clearly. You might offer to help them through the transition to a new tutor. In almost every case, they will be grateful for your honesty.

    Very rarely, you will need to end your relationship with a client because they treat you poorly and make your life difficult. Don’t feel guilty about declining further work from them, and don’t feel trapped by a sense of obligation to their child. There are plenty more tutors out there.

    Whatever the reason, never let things drag on miserably. It’s no good for you or your student.

    5. Communicate!

    From the outset, talk to your clients! There are very few difficulties which can’t be managed well if you already have an effective pattern of communication.

    What’s more, parents are most likely to worry about their children’s education if they don’t know what’s going on.

    When you start working with a new family, send the parents frequent emails. Remind them what homework you have set. Perhaps send a weekly update, highlighting their child’s strengths and explaining where you are seeking improvement. If your student has done something especially good, let their parents know and encourage them to echo your own congratulations.

    After a few weeks, you’ll probably find that you can reduce your level of communication. When a client understands your approach and feels able to trust you, you will have the freedom to do your very best teaching.

    Robert Lomax is a teacher and author. He writes about education at RSL Educational

    Your part in the Graduate Outcomes survey

    By UCL Careers, on 10 July 2018

     

    Graduate Outcomes

    If you are about to graduate, or you’ve graduated over the past year, at a point in the not-too-distant future, you will be asked to take part in a government-backed survey called Graduate Outcomes. This replaces the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE for short).

    Graduate Outcomes, like DLHE, asks about what you have gone on to do after your graduation and a range of other questions that will build up a picture of where graduates work and study, how much they typically earn and what industry sectors they prefer. Unlike DLHE, Graduate Outcomes will take place quite a long time after you graduate.

    It’s a detailed survey that takes a little time to complete, but its results will be exceptionally useful to prospective students, universities and government agencies in understanding graduate career paths and the labour market.

    Why are we telling you this?

    We want to introduce the survey to you so you are aware that you will be asked to take part. You will receive a link to the survey by email, fifteen months after graduation, so if you have just completed your course, you’ll hear from the survey company in September 2019.

    Why is the survey such a long time after graduation?

    The time lag is to enable earnings data from the tax system to be linked to the survey results. Previously, earnings were declared by graduates themselves. In this way, the survey result will be more robust.

    Respond to the survey

    When the time comes, please respond to the email link or to the follow up phone call and complete the survey. The survey company will be persistent in calling, as response targets for Graduate Outcomes are high, so responding promptly will save the need for continuous calls.

    Your career journey

    Remember that as a UCL graduate you can still use UCL Careers support in finding work and progressing your career, for up to two years after you’ve finished your course. Take a look at our website for more information about our services for graduates

    If you have any questions or would like further information please contact us on careers@ucl.ac.uk or visit the Graduate Outcomes website.

    Becoming a writer: what do literary agents look for?

    By UCL Careers, on 9 June 2018

    Some Top Tips from Ella Kahn, UCL Alumni and Literary Agent at Diamond Kahn & Woods.

    I am a literary agent, which means I scout for talented writers and help them get published; working with them to develop their novels, matchmaking them with the right publisher, and supporting their careers as authors in any way I can.

    I have a very close working relationship with all my clients – editing a novel to get it ready to sell to publishers can be very intensive, and it’s important that my authors understand and are happy with every stage of the publication process, so constant communication (and reassurance!) as I guide them through that process is key. And by managing all of the business aspects of getting published (negotiating contracts, dealing with finances etc), I enable my authors to focus on what they do best – being creative and writing incredible books.

    A strong, pacy plot is the most important quality for me, combined with a confident, distinctive writing voice. A pacy plot doesn’t have to mean constant action and cliffhangers at the end of each chapter – it might be driven by the emotional journey the character goes on, for example – but I want to have a sense of purpose and direction to the story.

    A manuscript will stand out if there’s an intriguing concept or ‘hook’ at the heart of the story that’s going to immediately pique my curiosity. I want well-rounded, realistic and personable characters who I’m going to care about and want to root for; authentic dialogue, and vivid, immersive world-building, so I can sink into the world of the story; and a professional, committed author who I know I will enjoy working with!

    When approaching agents, writers often fail to focus on the most important thing: telling us what their book is about! A cover letter should include a blurb pitching the story in the same style as the blurbs you’ll find on the back of a book in a bookshop. I want to know who the main character is, a little bit about the set-up of their world and their situation at the start of the story, what happens to set their story in motion, what their aims and motivations are, and what challenges they’re going to face in trying to achieve their goals. Something else that is very easy to avoid: not paying attention to detail! It doesn’t give a good impression if I’m sent a novel in a genre I don’t represent, or if there are typos in the text, or if my name is spelt wrong. A little bit of research into which agents might be the best fit for your work, and approaching them with a polished, professional pitch, will go a long way to help a submission stand out.

    LGBTQ+ Careers – SOAS Careers Service Panel Discussion

    By Sophia Donaldson, on 21 May 2018

    LGBTQ+ rainbow flagEarlier this month SOAS Careers Service ran a discussion panel on LGBTQ+ experiences in the workplace. Sitting on the panel were LGBTQ+ professionals employed in a range of sectors; we heard from two management consultants, an artist, a charity worker, a higher education professional, a digital marketer, and a jobseeker. Three of the panellists had past experience in teaching, one had spent time in recruitment. The panel kindly shared a variety of thought-provoking views and personal experiences. The main messages I took away were:

    All parts of our identity can shape our career

    Many of the speakers felt being a member of the LGBTQ+ community had influenced their career decisions. For some that meant being subconsciously drawn to open, inclusive, and innovative environments. For others, after experiencing workplaces that weren’t diversity-friendly, their move to open and inclusive work environments was far more deliberate. Some said although their gender/sexual identity hadn’t determined the sector they’d chosen, it did influence the companies they targeted within that sector, and the types of initiatives they became involved with at work e.g. LGBTQ+ groups, and equality and diversity recruitment initiatives.

    Research was quoted showing LGBTQ+ people are more attracted to altruistic careers than heterosexual people, and the panel’s charity worker agreed their sexuality had influenced their choice; they felt they wanted to help society in part to prove their worth and overcome the stigma associated with being LGBTQ+.

    The drag artist was pretty sure their LGBTQ+ identity may have influenced their career choice….and there are specific arts funds that as an LGBTQ+ person they can apply to for their work.

    Some workplaces are more accepting than others Thumbs up featuring the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag.

    A few speakers shared experiences of working in less tolerant workplaces and countries, and the negative impacts they had. There was a feeling shared by three panellists that in the workplace, just as in the rest of society, non-binary identities such as pansexuality, bisexuality, and gender fluidity are currently less well understood and accepted than some of the other LGBTQ+ identities. With this feeling came a call for people to make fewer assumptions about colleagues’ identities.

    One speaker emphasised the importance of being out and proud in shaping less open workplaces to be more accepting. But if you’re concerned about joining an already diverse and open employer, each year Stonewall compiles a list of 100 organisations doing great work for LGBTQ+ acceptance, which is a good place to start. Here is 2018’s (huzzah for UCL at number 98). Also try speaking to people working in your target sectors and organisations. This sort of ‘informational interview’ can provide a better idea of whether a role and organisation is for you in every way, including the LGBTQ+ angle.

    The drag artist worked in a pretty accepting environment…and they emphasised the difference between working in an accepting but predominately straight environment, and queer-run, queer-owned businesses which are leading the way in acceptance, and whose policies they hope will eventually be adopted by other employers.

    The decision to be out at work is yours and yours alone

    Although all speakers were generally “out”, the panel reflected a range of experiences of being open about their sexual and gender identity at work. One panellist had not been out when working in less tolerant countries, another has been closeted as a teacher, which is a decision they now regret. The benefits of being out at work were discussed: the fact that it encourages other people to be out and confident, that it encourages straight colleagues to be more aware and accepting, and that the energy it takes to hide a major part of yourself every day at work could be better spent on doing and enjoying your actual work.

    After much deliberation, and asking tutors and family for advice, one panellist made a conscious decision to be out when working as a school teacher. They wanted to provide a proud LGBTQ+ role model to young people, which had been lacking when they were at school. Although it was terrifying at first, the projected confidence with which they were out led pupils to not see it as a big deal.

    The drag artist was pretty comfortable being out at work…but in past 9-5 office environments thought their career wasn’t helped by the fact they were, in their words, “really queer”. So they assured the audience that no one person should feel they have to be out and leading the way, you have to do what’s right for you. The panel agreed it’s an individual decision people need to make for themselves, and that personal safety and comfort must be considered.

    To hear more LGBTQ+ workplace experiences, check out Stonewall’s LGBT voices, which forms part of their mega helpful Starting Out Guide. UCL HR also have links to useful resources, including UCL’s LGBT+ Volunteering Fair. And for inspiration, check out The OUTstanding lists: LGBT leaders and allies today.

     

     

     

     

    Top Tips for Application Forms from Skills4Work Panellists

    By UCL Careers, on 11 May 2018

    Sally Brown – UCL Careers Advisor

    On the 3rd October, UCL Careers welcomed four speakers from different companies to speak to students about their application processes and to offer some ‘top tips’ about completing application forms. What was clear was that although every company has their own way of shortlisting candidates, some specific annoyances regarding poor applications were common to all recruiters.

    Online application forms

    All the panellists stated that their company asks you to fill in an online application form. They often ask for the same information that you will have on your CV – such as your academics and some personal details – but often in a format that suits the needs of the company. The representative from PwC was keen to highlight that due to the desire for social mobility, many companies (inc. PwC) do not ask for your work experience at this stage – understanding that some graduates may not have had the opportunity to undertake relevant or unpaid work experience/internships during their studies. So don’t worry if you feel your current work experience – such as bar work or retail – doesn’t directly relate to the industry you are applying to, they will be looking for a breadth of transferable skills they can build on.

    Top tips from the panellists:

    • Talk to people already doing the role you are interested in
    • Check whether it is the right ‘fit’ for you through researching the role and company thoroughly before applying.

    Online: Motivation and Competency questions

    Online questions regarding candidates’ motivation to apply to the company, their industry knowledge and basic common competencies (such as team-work) were common amongst the companies represented. It was also common that some candidates offered generalised responses that could be applied to any of their competitors.

    Top tips from the panellists:

    • Research! Research the role as well as the organisation.
    • Take your time – allow 1-2 weeks to fill in the in the application.
    • Research the industry to build up your commercial awareness – reflect upon how current issues may affect the company.
    • A ‘real human’ will read this – all the panellists agreed that their companies do not use software to filter candidates.

    Video Applications

    Yes the 21st century is here! Both the panellists from Unlocked and the Bank of England stated that they use video as part of the process. This is where you receive some written questions, get a few minutes to prepare your answer and then you are filmed saying your responses. These are reviewed later, as there is no one on the other side of the camera whilst you are speaking. The aim is to find out what you are like as a person and your communications skills.

    Top tips from the panellists:

    • Check what else is in view of the camera e.g. remove the picture of you and your friends at a Halloween party, lock up the cat etc.
    • Dress smartly
    • Find a quiet place, but not too quiet that you are inclined to whisper.
    • Try to look directly at the camera and not at the ‘thumbnail’ of you.
    • It is acceptable to jot down key points during the preparation time and refer to the paper during your answer – but avoid reading from the notes like a script.

    Online testing:

    Two of the panellists – from PwC and The Bank of England – stated that their company uses some online testing that may include numerical, inductive (sometimes called logical reasoning) or verbal reasoning tests, work style preference questionnaire, or a personality test.

    Top tips from the panellists:

    • Don’t lie or second guess yourself on the latter two – they are there to help the company work out a ‘best fit’ for you regarding departments.

    Five Top Tips for applications:

    1. Don’t copy and paste information off the website for your application.
    2. We know what we do – show us why it interests you and discuss how you would be a good asset.
    3. Take opportunities offered – reply to e-mails that offer you information, meetings or chats.
    4. Be specific to the firm you are applying to – show a genuine interest.
    5. Research! How can you show motivation about something you know little about?

     

    Asking for Reasonable Adjustments for a Health Condition or Disability

    By UCL Careers, on 9 May 2018

    Disclosing your health condition consists of two parts of a conversation: the disclosure itself and the request for support. Often, they take place at the same time, so it’s good to be prepared for a conversation regarding your needs. By ‘need,’ we mean what reasonable adjustments employers can make for you.

    In case you haven’t read previous blogs, reasonable adjustments are provided by employers to mitigate any barriers in employment you might face as a result of your health condition.

    What are reasonable adjustments? ACAS says, “Reasonable adjustments remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by disabled people. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged in the workplace. They should also make sure policies and practices do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.” In simple terms, reasonable adjustments are put in place, so that you can perform the role just as effectively as anyone else.

    The word reasonable, as in ‘reasonable adjustments’ is interesting here, as what is reasonable in one environment, may be different in another.

    So, what can you to prepare yourself for this aspect of the conversation?

    What might you struggle with?

    Think about the research you’ve done into the role you are applying to. If there are aspects of the environment or of the role which may adversely impact your health, e.g. working long hours, then write this down.

    Reflect and research

    Prioritise each one – are there any issues that you are minor? Are there any that really trouble you?

    There are two factors here: what you will do to manage your condition at work, and what your employer can do to support you. Whilst the emphasis in this blog is more about the latter, how you manage yourself currently can also help you.

    For example, you may have observed facets of your condition that have affected your performance in your qualification, and consequently you have adapted the way that you work or sought support. Knowing what works or doesn’t work provides really useful knowledge to feed into the conversation. Sometimes, however, you need to be in the actual job and environment to know how you can manage your condition, which is when reaching out may be worthwhile.

    Against each of the areas of work you have written down that concern you, add a potential solution, using your experience as above, or researching what has helped others (see Resources section).

    How will I say it?

    Having prioritised your areas of concern, draw the employer’s attention to your main concerns, but offer one or two solutions for each. The conversation should be fluid and also positively reinforce your strengths, and what you love about the role. Emphasise how much more effective you’ll be with this support.

    Your research will help you stay in control of the conversation however as it is a conversation, the employer may have their own suggestions, using prior knowledge.

    Pre-empting questions or concerns

    It’s worth spending some time thinking about any questions the employer might have. They may be concerned about the cost involved in supporting you with specialist equipment but some reasonable adjustments, e.g. adjusting working hours, may be of very little cost. Remind them also of the Access to Work scheme, which may also provide funding for equipment.

    Some of your approach to this conversation is about confidence and attitude. Often, we feel guilty about asking for things before we’ve even started working and before the employer has seen what we are capable of. However, you are your best expert. The key is to reach a solution that means you will perform at your best, without compromising your health.

    At UCL Careers, we’re more than happy to talk through disclosure with you, whether you’re confused, have made up your mind or just want to do a simple role play! If you are an Undergraduate, please access UCL Careers Extra appointments; if you’re a postgraduate, feel free to book any UCL Careers one-to-one appointment and we’ll give you a steer.

    Article written by Careers Consultant, Carla King: carla.king@ucl.ac.uk

    Resources:

    Dyslexia related reasonable adjustments

    Advice and guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

    Reasonable adjustments examples from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

    Advice from the UK Government

    Advice for employers

    Telling Future Employers about Non-Visible Health Conditions: The Disclosure Conversation

    By UCL Careers, on 6 May 2018

    Having the disclosure conversation can be nerve-wracking but if you’re prepared, you will have the extra confidence and control you need, ensuring the focus is on the impact and your needs.

    Before preparing, ask yourself the following:

    • Do I have to tell my employer? (see previous blog)
    • Why do I want to tell them? (is this out of obligation or will be helpful to you?)
    • How do I feel about telling them? (whatever emotional response this elicited is very normal)

    Having a plan

    Having a disclosure plan for the conversation helps you keep the things you want the employer to concentrate on. There is also a bit of reflection and research you can do to support your plan.

    When will I tell the employer?

    This could be at application stage, at interview, before a test, after the job offer is made, when you’re in the workplace. When you disclose is entirely dependent on how comfortable you feel disclosing at any of these stages. It may be worth listing pros and cons to help you decide the timing.

    Where will I tell them?

    Think about what the conversation might look like. Will you speak to someone on the phone or will you do this in person? If the conversation is not face-to-face, how might this change what you want to say? E.g. how much time will you have with them?

    What will they say?

    Pre-empt questions or concerns. Think about how you might deal with a reaction. Two big questions they will likely have are:

    • How will this affect your work?
    • What support will you need?

    How will they react?

    There are two things to remember here – they are human and may react in a way you didn’t expect, and also that you have had time to absorb this information for a while, however they might need time to take it all in. Equally, of course, they may not react at all and take the information in their stride.

    What will I say?

    As the mainstay of the conversation, keep it positive. Remind them of what you do really well and, concisely, tell them about how you currently manage your condition at university. Highlight areas of work that might impact your condition, then focus on what support you can both put into place to help you do your job the most effectively. Think about what your employer might do to help you – are there any physical changes to your desk? Is there something about your working pattern that might help? Think about ways of working you can bring from university or what you found helped you. You can make clear whether or not this would be open information or if you would like things kept private and confidential. Remember, this is not only about what you can do, but also that employers have a duty of care to take away barriers in the workplace that exist because of your condition. They do this by providing reasonable adjustments (more in the final blog).

    How will I say it?

    Keep the conversation flowing and factual. Focus only on aspects that are relevant to the role.

    How will I ask for support?

    Once the information part of the conversation is over, if you feel this is the right time, you can move on to your needs: things that will help you integrate and help you to do your job effectively. This is the research bit – once you’ve identified areas in which you’ll need support, do some research on the sorts of things others have found very useful.

    Use your resources

    At UCL Careers, we’re more than happy to talk through disclosure with you, whether you’re confused, have made up your mind or just want to do a simple role play! If you are an Undergraduate, please access UCL Careers Extra appointments; if you’re a postgraduate, feel free to book any UCL Careers one-to-one appointment and we’ll give you a steer.

    Article written by Careers Consultant, Carla King: carla.king@ucl.ac.uk

    Resources:

    Equality Act & Human Rights Commission Contact: 0808 800 0082

    Disability confident employers registered with the Department for Work and Pensions

    Workplace adjustments: Equality Law