Dyslexic friend + change of career x (What options are available + how can I help) = happier friend
September 23, 2009 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Dyslexic friend + change of career x (What options are available + how can I help) = happier friend! How can I help a friend find and get a new job and career?

An old friend and I have just got back in touch, after five years of losing contact, through the current Social Networking site of choice. Life has been fairly good to her however she's getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of (apparently) suitable jobs out there.

She's hard working, sociable, honest and trustworthy but the one factor that she's been told stands in her way is her dyslexia for the jobs that she's applying for. This results in her getting through to the interview stage and - despite being a suitable candidate, being experienced in the fields that she's applying for, better presented, etc. - she gets knocked back; as a result her confidence is taking a bit of a pounding.

I've tried the obvious - advising her to look for jobs for things that she's interested in, has skills in, etc. but... no joy so far.

You are not a careers advisor, fully understood up front. That said, any advice that you can swing in my direction as to potential careers for people with dyslexia - one who's in her early thirties with a passion for cookery, theatre and a 13 year history working for a large retailer - and advice as to how I can help her achieve said goals will be much appreciated.
posted by Mrevilbreakfast to Work & Money (10 answers total)
 
How is her dyslexia coming up in the interview process? If you know you can do the jobk, don't bring up any weaknesses in the interview. How severe is her dyslexia? In what way does it impact her functioning? Dyslexia can vary quite a bit. My partner is a dyslexic that managed so well she wasn't diagnosed till she hit college. OTOH, I once tutored students w/disablites as a community college and worked with students who needed to use Dragon Dictate, Kursweil readers and other people to cope with reading and writing. One guy was bloody brilliant and had a memory of a sponge, but his dyslexia affected his reading and writing ability severely. I'm assuming from her past jobs, she is not trying the office route. The office route is doable for some people with dyslexia, but I imagine it would be very difficult for those with severe forms.
posted by Librarygeek at 9:59 AM on September 23, 2009


I have a question -- how are her employers finding out about her dyslexia? She of course shouldn't be disclosing it in any interviews (and it's of course illegal for them to not hire her because of it), so what is causing it to be revealed?
posted by brainmouse at 10:00 AM on September 23, 2009


I believe she's avoided the office route previously, and that she mentions the dyslexia during the interview-or-application process so as not to give prospective employers reason to look to release her by playing the "you didn't tell us this when you applied for the job" card.
posted by Mrevilbreakfast at 10:05 AM on September 23, 2009


Brainmouse - is it definately illegal not to hire someone due to their dyslexia? I know employment law changes from country to country; for point of reference we're in the UK.
posted by Mrevilbreakfast at 10:06 AM on September 23, 2009


Oh, I didn't check your location. I don't know the ADA-equivalent in the UK -- but in the US, dyslexia is a learning disability, and not hiring people because of a disability is illegal.

She absolutely should not ever ever be disclosing it in interviews though, regardless.
posted by brainmouse at 10:08 AM on September 23, 2009


Just done some research and - from what I can gather - UK employees are protected under the Disability Discriminations Act. Good stuff.
posted by Mrevilbreakfast at 10:11 AM on September 23, 2009


The trick is, no matter where you are, discrimination can be difficult to prove. If she can fulfill the job requirements, there is no reason to be starting off with a black mark against her. If she needs adjustments to the job due to her dyslexia, then she would need to mention it. I still wouldn't touch it on an application. If the UK is like the US, applications basically ask "Can you do this job with reasonable accomodations?" If the answer is yes, she doesn't discuss what those potential accomodations are until the potential employer is extending an offer, but before accepting the offer.
posted by Librarygeek at 10:17 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


FYI about dyslexia and the workpalce in the UK. I didn't go through the site, but it seems like a good resource -- there's some stuff about applying for jobs with dyslexia.
posted by brainmouse at 10:35 AM on September 23, 2009


potential careers for people with dyslexia

Both my father and my sister have dyslexia. My sister teaches Special Education -- she teaches kids with learning disabilities, including dyslexia. My father (now in his 70s) was in sales from the time I was born until he retired (before that, he worked on oil rigs).

One thing I've noticed about both of them, which may not be related to dyslexia at all, is that they have a striking ability to learn visually and can understand how things work at a glance. For example, without any real training at all, my sister can tell you exactly how to rewire a house. My dad is a master at anything mechanical -- if it has parts, he can just look at it and know how the parts work together.

They also are both very verbal. They "never met a stranger," as the saying goes. They can immediately strike up a conversation with anyone.

So, practical advice for your friend is perhaps to focus on sales jobs, as she has 13 years experience in retail. Sales is a bigger field than just retail, so if she's burned out on working in a store, she can still put her considerable talents and experience in a different type of sales job. Reading and writing are parts of a sales job, but a smaller part, and the real job is making connections with people, explaining how the item meets the buyers' needs, and so on.

She should also (in my opinion) think of an interview as a bit of sales. She is selling herself. She needs to highlight her best assets, and really not mention the things that don't sell her best. She's bright, talented, outgoing, experienced. Those are the features to sell. She does not need to tell them that she transposes letters. I'm sure she's already picked up many techniques for helping her out in that area (dictionaries, spell-checks, asking someone to look something over for her, taking the extra time she needs to read things, using a straight-edge while reading, etc.).
posted by Houstonian at 10:59 AM on September 23, 2009


Just as a datapoint, I have dyslexia and work in a public library. I've never mentioned my dyslexia in any job interview and I perform my job very well. Good luck to your friend!
posted by saucysault at 11:03 AM on September 23, 2009


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