Asthma UK community forum

Job Applications

I'm looking for some advice on telling future employers about disability/health issues.

I'm coming to the end of my time at university and have just started applying for jobs. My supervisor is helping me with my applications but he's unsure how to handle the issue of disclosing disability and I was wondering if anyone here had advice.

I'm going to have to say something because my course has taken 5 years instead of 3 due to multiple hospital admissions, time off and problems associated with another disability I have. My disability/health records read pretty badly and make me look really sick, but I know I can cope with the positions I am applying for and they are jobs I want so much I don't want to put myself at a disadvantage.

I'm happy to tick the disability box on the equal opps form, but this doesn't normally go to the selection panel so I need to write something in my application. Does anyone have any suggestions about what to write? One position I'm applying for says the employer is keen to increase the number of disabled employees, but there doesn't seem to be any process within the application to address this? :s

I feel really torn. I have to say something. I want to be totally honest as I don't feel I have anything to hide and would rather be open from the start, BUT, I'm scared I might not even get to the interview stage if they read that I have a disability/health issue.

What do I say in my application?

8 Replies


My advice would be is to tick the 'disability' box and if the form has reasons as to being off ill explain then. You can also bring this up in the interview when they ask if you have any other questions. Honesty is the best policy I believe! Best of luck with the application!!


Hi Ratty,

Not going to pretend I really know too much about this specifically - I have applied for a lot of jobs (I'd have applied for fewer if I weren't so rubbish at interviews...) but I don't have a disability so don't know what works and what doesn't in forms for that.

However, I was wondering if you could perhaps turn it into a positive thing in a way ie it's been really difficult doing your degree but you are committed and have kept going and found ways around your disability where possible (flexibility/problem-solving?), and you don't give up. You could also possibly say that you know what you can and can't do and aren't going to try and pretend you can do something that will make you ill - so you can show you've thought about what's involved with the job.

As I said not an expert at all and you probably want advice from someone who's been through the process esp. re the legal position etc, but when I read your post I just wondered if this might help give you some ideas about how to tackle the forms.

Good luck - I really hope things go well for you!


So I've had both good experiences and bad experiences with jobs around my health. My first job I got a recommendation from my professor who worked there, and was well aware of my issues. Often what I will do is to write the application without bring up my health, because you are applying for the job because of your qualities and skills. Then if I feel the interview is going well, I will talk about the fact that I just had major surgery, and this is why I've been out of work. One thing that I find useful is to say that I have something, but I know how to deal with it and manage, and that I am getting good care for it. A friend who has seizures and I have found that stressing that the thing is taken care of and going well is often a good way to go. About the job that is interested in hiring people with disabilities, I think it could make sense to explain about your asthma from the perspective of how it's made you stronger and more persistent and determined. Also if things are going well I might make some suggestions as to what makes a job workable for what kinds of flexibility I need to provide my best work. For instance with my migraines sometimes being able to go in later in the day and work later, on the days when it is particularly bad, is a good option.



I think you best bet would be declare long term condition and if get job organise meeting with companies occupational health and talk to line manger. Last time I went for a job it came out on my reference about my sickenss and they were ok. I am in the beleive that if they dont ask then should expect to know and you dont have to tell them!

If they ask about sickness i just say had a rough time with asthma but it is getting better, but might have higher than average sickness.


I am having some problems with employment at the moment but this has led me to look at the legislation quite closely. Asthma if persistent can be covered by the DDA now the equalities act which means that you are covered when applying for jobs and when actually workinng, it is complicated but there is advice available from access to work and the human rights commision, they were both quite informative. It seems that an employer cannot discriminate overtly because of disability or illness, this does not mean that they don't do it, it just means that if you can prove that they have done it they are in trouble. I think that asthma and work is a really difficult juggling act especially when asthma can be severe and unpredictable, can sort of see it from both sides the employer and mine the perosn with the condition. Sorry if this seems a bit of a rant but it is something I am struggling with right now.


It is difficult to know what to do, I guess that there is no right and wrong answer, particularly as different firms will have different opinions!

Do you mean your academic supervisor (or personal tutor) is helping you? I only ask because if you haven't already done so you could ask the university careers service or the university disability advisers for their advice or what to say. Have you also thought about asking some employers for their advice. All the big graduate employers will probably have someone in HR who could at least give you their opinion. Even if you don't want to work for the company or this type of company it might be worth sounding them out.

My asthma is not bad enough all the time to be covered by the DDA however it did mean I was unable to work for a short while and was then looking for part time work. My solution was to explain in my covering letter or the supporting statement that I had been unwell. I feel it is better to be honest and it might looking better than if I had been unemployed. I tried to phrase it carefully so it implied that I had had a 'period of illness' and didn't specifically say that it was asthma. Most people with limited experience of chronic illness will naturally assume that you were ill and then you got better. The trick is to get them to think this without specifically implying this.

I think that in your situation you should be covered by the DDA and hopefully be able to take advantage of people's guaranteed interview schemes. The once you have the interview you could explain in more detail if it crops up, and show them how lovely you are of course!

Finally- good luck with the applications.



I have always assumed it is only put in the medical questionnaire that is filled in if you are offered an interview/position. And of course the disability box. And then Occ Health can get involved if necessary. I transferred in the company i work for to another educational establishment and they referred me to Occ Health but after contacting my GP I was declared fit for work. (This was for another health issue rather than asthma).



Thanks everyone for your help - much appreciated. I have asked my uni disability officer for advice, so we'll see what she suggests, otherwise I'm going for a fairly bland statement and they can ask more at interview if they want - I don't feel I have anything to hide, so it will be more a case of whether I come up against anyone holding prejudices/assumptions. The difficulty is that I have multiple health issues/disabilities so I can see how it could put someone off giving me a chance. I just really hope that someone is willing to give me the chance to prove what I can do. Oh well, we shall see. I'm hoping that I've done enough in my application to at least be shortlisted so that if I then fail at the interview stage I can ask for their advice re. disclosure and make subsequent applications stronger - just a real shame that this is the job I want so much. :(


You may also like...