I have heard tales about the recruitment experiences of kidney disease and transplant patients, getting or retaining a job. It is sad to see that kidney disease and transplant patients have to suffer discrimination when all they want to do is work. This doesn’t just happen to kidney disease or transplant patients but across board of everyone who has a long-term illness.
Working in HR almost all my working life, I have come to realise that employers only ever consider the bottom line, which is their pockets. Of course, they are not a charity (no pun intended) but when someone is willing and still able to work; why not give them a chance and make reasonable adjustments to help them do their job?
Private Sector Recruitment
I wanted to see for myself why and how recruitment practices affect people with long-term illness. So I decided to carry out an experiment, using myself as a guinea pig. To get a good outcome, I applied for jobs within and below my ability level, in both the voluntary and the private sector. Actually, I was not looking for a job; I already managed 3 businesses and had temporarily shut them whilst I was in confinement after my transplant.
To start off, I applied to a local engineering company for a part-time, temporary HR Advisor position. I waited to hear back from them. A few days later, I received an email to inform me I had not been shortlisted for the interview. Apparently, they had received a high response to the advert as well as applications from better qualified and/or more closely matched candidates to the job.
I know I met all their criteria and was most suited to the post because I had used a CV checker program. They want someone studying or willing to study towards an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute Of Personnel and Development (CIPD)designation. I am a Chartered member of the CIPD with a Masters in Human Resource Management and relevant experience of several years.
Recruitment Practices in the Third Sector
I really prayed that the Third Sector (Voluntary sector) would be different. This was an admin/co-ordinator position. They wanted someone who could work in administration with experience as a mother and a level 3 diploma in Childcare. I have advanced administrative skills, a mother of 2 teenage children and have managed a childcare business for several years and I had a level 5 diploma in childcare. There were other criteria which had no bearing on qualifications. The kicker is that I actually volunteer with this organisation and they knew what I was capable of.
I didn’t just rest on my laurels, I filled out the application with a different mindset and the assumption; they didn’t know me. So it had to be an application for an organisation I didn’t have any relationship with. Suffice me to say I was disappointed at the outcome.
Feedback or The Lack of?!
The practice today, is to check a candidate on social media before hiring them. I am guilty of that, too as an employer. I will be scrapping that practice. It is a grey area now and there is no legislation on this. They possibly must have seen my posts on my journey with kidney disease. No employer wants to deal with an employee with long-term illness. The practice for potential employers is to tell you feedback cannot be provided because of the high volume of better qualified applicants but that’s always a way to fob people off, asking for feedback.
Giving feedback no matter how busy I am is the least I can do to help them in their next application. I believe giving feedback helps the applicant identify areas they need to make improvements.
My experience with these two organisations, is the same tale I hear over and over from fellow kidney disease patients or transplant recipients. There are other experiences with employers doing absolutely nothing to help transplant recipients back to work. They sometimes, don’t want the responsibility of providing support for the person. Thus, ensuring that in no time, either the person quits out of frustration to look for another job or they just do nothing in order not to rock the boat because they have bills to pay. This practice is reprehensible.
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What You Can Do About It?
I wouldn’t advise anyone to give up applying for jobs or asking for feedback either. Be persistent. You have to keep trying. Someone will just have to give you a job eventually. Do not and never, ever settle. In the meantime, to make sure that you are doing everything possible to be invited to interview; the following steps should help you make it difficult for employers to turn down your application.
Curriculum Vitae (CV):
Update your CV, either by asking a friend in HR or has experience with CV writing to have a look and give you advice on how to update it. The best option is to find a CV writing resource online. This type of checker helps check your CV and identifies areas that need improvement. Job Scan is very good as its name depicts. I used it for the jobs I applied for in my experiments below. It scans your CV, gives a breakdown of areas you need to update and pinpoints where the problem areas are in the job you have applied for.
Wherever you are in the world, it is so relevant to whatever job you’re applying for. It looks at checks and tips from recruiters and headhunters searching for employees for their clients. The different sections compare your skills with the skills required in the job description. You also get recommendations of relevant jobs based on your CV. Do try it out to really see how it works. I used the free sample to check out my application before submitting it. Using this resource can save you a lot of time tailoring your CV to suit the job you’re applying for.
A lot of coaching and training practice around interview skills abound which you can take advantage of. There are some taster sessions which should tell you if they are suitable to your needs. You can take one-off sessions for specific jobs or you can just look for webinars which will tell you what is required to succeed at interview.
It is important that you sign up for some coaching with different HR/recruitment coaches; they would have Facebook groups where you can ask other members of the group what to do with each interview you are invited to. This is the way forward these days.
Before the day of the interview, brainstorm the job description with a friend to guess what questions you might be asked. Then, prepare with two possible answers for each question, interweaving information gathered from the company website, in your answers. You can take your answers with you and ask the panel if they mind you checking your paper. It’s normally not a problem because it shows that you really want the job.
On the day of the interview, dress smart not stylish, it’s preferable to wear dark or muted colours and not loud or bright colours. Wear low heeled shoes (women) or well-polished black shoes (men). If there are two of you for the job, and the other person wore muted colours, they will prefer to go with the other candidate. So be aware of this.
Important Interview Advice
On the day of interview, walk through the door and shake the hand of each interviewer confidently. Do wait to be shown where to sit before taking a seat. Don’t forget to smile and portray warmth and confidence.
Be confident and speak clearly to the interview panel. Do not over explain any question especially when there’s a silence between questions. Don’t try to fill the silence with more answers. It’s a HR tactic in some organisations.
You can ask if your answer was adequate and/or if they want another example. If they don’t want another example, wait for their next question.
Do not talk about your previous employer in a disrespectful way, no matter what happened at your previous job.
Once the interview is over, thank them for their time and ask when you would be hearing from them.
If they send you the usual standard letter, you haven’t been successful, ask for feedback from the chair of the panel, it could be written or verbal but you shouldn’t take no for an answer,
If the refusal comes at the shortlist stage and they give you the standard spiel, tell them you’re happy to have a telephone conversation as you really need the feedback and can wait for it.
What most people don’t know is that, in the UK, employers can be held accountable for dishonest recruitment practices. Speak to an employment law advice service or solicitor they always run free HR clinics for these advice sessions(1st 30 minutes consultation free) or Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) about your rights.
Further Help and Resources
I have just started putting together a webinar and coaching classes to coach people with long-term illnesses. The sessions will be on recruitment and interview skills which will include CV writing for a small fee.
This will help me continue providing the service for this amazing group of people. The webinars aren’t limited to people with long-term disease, anybody else who wants to help with their job search can sign up, from anywhere in the world.
If interested in any of them, please sign up below and depending on interest, I will set up several dates for a webinar or coaching sessions. Possible dates will be sent by email to everyone.