Requesting adjustments

When you make a job application you will be asked if you need any adjustments. This is your opportunity to request any additional support you think would enable you to apply on an equal footing with a non-disabled applicant, and can be done at any point during the process.

By asking for adjustments, you are at that point “disclosing” that you have a disability but there is no obligation to provide any further detail if you prefer not to. This is because there is a ban on asking health or disability related questions in the recruitment process, and is designed to prevent any occurrence of bias.

Remember that the law is not retrospective; your protection under the Equality Act only starts from the point at which you share this information. If you ask for your needs to be met later in the process it could be that an opportunity is missed to offer support, so consider this carefully.

When and how should I request adjustments?

You may choose to disclose:

  • From the outset in your cover letter or application
  • Before an assessment centre or interview
  • Wait until you have been offered the position

Again there are pros and cons to each approach. If you choose to refer to information related to your condition(s) early in the process, it is preferable to do this in a cover letter or as part of a personal statement/online application competency question rather than on your CV, which we advise is for your academic and work record only.

The more open format of a question gives you the opportunity to talk about successful past employment or voluntary work and/or strategies you have used to overcome potential problems during your studies.

If your disability or health concern means that you had to take time out of your studies or were granted mitigating circumstances it may be best to tackle this head on when making an application; again, in your cover letter or an application form answer. If this applies to you, focus on your achievements and how you completed your studies despite the challenges you may have faced.

Examples of adjustments that employers can make include extra time to complete tests, accessible formats and/or interview venues and rest breaks in assessment centres. If you will need adjustments to be made to take part in any interview or assessment centre it is a good idea to request these as far as possible prior to the date. Keep your requests short, simple and factual for example: “My condition means I require extra time in a written assessment”. Recruiters should contact you after you have made your request so you can discuss your needs and the best way forward together.

It is important to understand that the adjustment is specific to you and your circumstances so do ask for what you need. There is not a “menu” to select from; some adjustments may be more challenging than others for recruiters to provide but it is their legal obligation to do so.

Whichever stage you decide to request adjustments, it is beneficial to be positive; focus on what you have learnt and how you have managed the situation. Recruiters like to see positivity and enthusiasm so concentrate on your achievements and skills rather than your health or disability. If you time the declaration of your disability carefully and at a time to suit you and your circumstances best this will give you more control over the way it is seen by the employer. It is your privacy and your choice.

The following organisations provide advice on requesting adjustments.

  • Access to work Helps pay for practical support to assist disabled individuals seeking or in employment, such as support and equipment at work, help towards transport costs if public transport not accessible to the individual and finance to support an individual at the interview stage.
  • EmployAbility
  • MyPLusStudentsClub
  • ACAS
  • Scope