Work & Education

Disability and employment: using your personality to get a job

Jane Hatton, who manages Evenbreak, a not-for-profit jobs board run by disabled people for disabled people, publishes her bi-monthly article on the subject of disability and employment. This month, talking letting your personality shine.

Here at Evenbreak I have recently been through the recruitment process myself and taken on two new employees. I know what employers are often looking out for, and it’s not just an impressive skill set.

It is always difficult when recruiting. I wanted to employ all of the candidates, and hated rejecting people, especially when many were really good. But I couldn’t employ everyone, so I had to pick the candidates that stood out. It reminded me of one of my personal recruitment principles – recruit for attitude and train for skills.

Most recruiters do this too, even if they are not aware they are doing it. It is easy to train people and equip them with new skills, but it’s almost impossible to change attitudes. For example, let’s say I wanted to appoint someone to use a particular piece of equipment. Candidate A has been using similar equipment for a number of years. Candidate B has never used this equipment before, and would need to be trained to use it. The obvious successful candidate is candidate A.

But let’s say I have a bit more information about these two candidates. It turns out that candidate A is a bit lazy, and makes many mistakes. They often turn up late without any explanation, and rarely complete their work when they say they will.

Candidate B, on the other hand, is punctual, conscientious, learns quickly and is always reliable and keen to do the best work they possibly can. Now which seems the more attractive candidate? I would be more tempted by candidate B – I can easily teach them how to use the equipment and they will be a conscientious and loyal employee. I might not have to train candidate A, but I would be concerned that they would cause problems.

When we are looking for work, of course we have to think about our skills, qualifications and experience. But it is important also to think about any personality traits that might be attractive to an employer. These can be mentioned on your CV, and should certainly brought out at interview.

In my recent round of recruitment, the best candidate on paper (i.e. the one with the most impressive CV) turned out to be the least attractive candidate at interview. They sounded very negative, and asked lots of questions that started with; “I wouldn’t want to …….” – it sounded like they really didn’t want the job at all!

Another candidate, who had very little experience in the field I was looking for ,showed lots of initiative and enthusiasm, and had really done lots of homework and research on my company. Much more impressive.

The two people I did take on had all the skills I was looking for, and had shown lots of enthusiasm for the role and the company. They seemed keen to learn and flexible – very attractive traits indeed.

What personality traits do you have that might be attractive to an employer? Take a look at the following and see which applies to you:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Willingness to learn
  • Ability to get on with people
  • Positive outlook
  • Punctuality
  • Takes initiative

All these things can be just as valuable as qualifications and experience, if not more so. So make sure your prospective employer knows about them. Use your personality shine.

By Jane Hatton

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