Applying for jobs

Looking for a job is a challenge for all of us, but when you are also thinking about how a potential employer might react to your scar, mark or condition, it can feel particularly stressful.

At Changing Faces we hear a lot from people who are concerned that their appearance might affect their chances of getting a job. Here are some common questions people ask us and how you might respond.

Should I mention my visible difference on an application form?

It is better not to mention your condition or injury on your CV or application form. The focus should be on your qualifications, skills and suitability for the job. We know that regardless of the type of job, appearances should be irrelevant but unfortunately this is not always the case.

What if the job application form asks for a photo?

The Equality Act 2010 Codes of Practice, Chapter 16.42; Avoiding discrimination in Recruitment states:  “Applicants should not be asked to provide photographs, unless it is essential for selection purposes, for example for an acting job; or for security purposes, such as to confirm that a person who attends for an  assessment or interview is the applicant.”

You have a few options. You could:

  • Contact the employer and ask why they need the photograph and how it is relevant to the application
  • Send the application without a photo and include a note stating the above
  • Attach a large photograph of yourself looking smart and confident, and include a note stating the above.

What about ‘visumés’ (video CVs)?

Visumés are becoming popular in the creative industries. Although they are not mentioned in the Equality Act 2010, some believe they allow for potential discrimination, as applicants will automatically be disclosing their age, ethnicity, gender and appearance if they apply in this format.

If you choose to create one, view it as an opportunity to be in control. It is essential that you script and practise what you want to say and that you present yourself as you would at an interview (in terms of hair, make-up and clothing). Ask someone else to watch it too, so they can give you honest feedback.

Alongside a visumé, it is essential to be well prepared for a Skype or video interview. Make sure you are happy with the sound, lighting and the background that can be seen in the camera shot and have a practice call in the location you have chosen. You should present yourself as you would at a face-to-face interview – even if they cannot see your bottom half!

Does my condition count as a ‘disability’?

The Equality Act 2010 deems ‘severe disfigurement’ a disability.  This means you do not need to prove that it has a ‘long-term adverse effect’ on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities in order to be protected by the Act.

Unfortunately, the word ‘severe’ is not defined in the Act, so it is hard to decide where to draw the line about what is and what is not covered. Legally, the decision about whether someone has a disability or not can only be decided by a court hearing through a tribunal.

If you feel that your mark or condition is severe or ‘disabling’, it is worth bearing in mind that some employers offer guaranteed interviews to disabled applicants under the ‘Two Ticks scheme’. Providing you meet all the minimum criteria for the job, this scheme could allow you to get your foot in the door.

Should I declare my condition or injury on the monitoring form?

This is the form that collects personal data alongside the application. The reason for collecting the data is to build up a picture of the workforce and to enable employers to spot unfairness or gaps in their recruitment process.

It is a legal requirement for organisations to separate the application and monitoring forms so there will be no possibility of anyone selecting (or avoiding) candidates based on the information that they give. It is obviously down to your personal judgement, but you should be able to complete this section with confidence that it will not affect your application.

What if I need to ask for specific assistance/arrangements to enable me to attend an interview? 

Employers have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to enable candidates with a disability to attend interviews wherever possible. This may mean making a ‘reasonable’ adjustment to their interview practice or location.

You might never have thought of your visible difference as ‘disabling’. However, if there are certain things you need as a matter of course to live with it, then it is a good idea to contact the employer to make sure they can make those adjustments for you in advance of the interview. It is a good opportunity to give them information on your condition and let them know that you are willing to share your expertise with them about how to handle it.

I suspect recruitment consultants won’t want to pass someone like me to their clients, so what’s the point?

If you are seeking work through a recruitment agency and you are nervous about how you will be received by them or their clients, you have nothing to lose by being open with them about your concerns.

You could start the conversation by asking them whether they think it would be helpful for them to mention your appearance to the client in advance and confirm that it does not impact on your ability to do the job.

If you both decide it would be in your best interests to let the client know in advance, we advise consultants to seek your advice on which words you would prefer to be used to describe your scar, mark or condition.

Preparing for a job interview

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Going to a job interview

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