Ahead of Manchester Digital's Digital Skills Festival 2021, we wanted to share this blog written by Alex, who joined us at Auto Trader as a graduate. Having previously hidden the fact that she was Dyslexic from her employers, Alex thought it was important to now speak up about it following her experiences working for a supportive and non-discriminatory employer.
When I was asked to talk about my Dyslexia and how this has affected me and my experience, I would usually shy away, however, since joining Auto Trader I have always felt comfortable about sharing my challenges.
Growing up, my teachers would explain how I needed to ‘concentrate more in class’. I would spell and read incorrectly, resulting in my English teacher skipping past me when choosing who to read out loud in class. My friends would call me stupid, but back then, none of us understood. Maybe I was just ‘stupid’?
When I started high school, the school became aware of the difficulties I faced, and I was then diagnosed with Dyslexia. The support given to me in high school was just what I needed to achieve my grades. I was granted 15% extra time in exams. For me, this was perfect.
Exam time came, and that is when for me, it all got interesting. I had to complete my exam in a small room, on my own. What was apparent is my peers noticed that I was not in the exam hall. After an exam, everyone gets together when you leave the hall, and everyone compares answers. When I would leave all everyone wanted to know was where I had been and why I got extra time. For them, they saw this as unfair and cheating. I guess looking from the outside in; it is hard to understand the difficulties faced when sitting an exam with Dyslexia.
Fast forward, I have been through college, graduated from university and worked hard to ensure that being Dyslexic did not hinder my results. When it came to job applications, the question I had was if I disclosed my learning difficulty, would this hinder my chance of being successful? Would other applicants look at me and think it was unfair if I were to be offered support? Because of this, I chose not to disclose the fact I was Dyslexic and went through the recruitment process here at Auto Trader without making any facts known.
Looking back and knowing what I know now about Auto Trader, the people and its culture, I would have thought twice about not declaring being Dyslexic. During the recruitment process, I found the online exam extremely difficult. Digesting the questions, whilst against the clock was hard. Auto Trader offers support during and after the recruitment process, offering more time for completion – if only I would have declared my struggles. Since discovering this, it is encouraging to know that as a company, we offer this support and do not look at being Dyslexic as negative to a job application.
Since speaking up about being Dyslexic, I now have access to technology like Microsoft Read, Dictate and Grammarly. Before this technology, sending a customer email would usually result in me reading it five times before sending, with minimal confidence in my grammar.
Walking through the office at the beginning of my career, and seeing all the writing on the walls, I began to question if this was for me. However, now I have no fear of writing on any wall and spelling words incorrectly. My team have always made me feel comfortable enough to share my struggles, and when asked will happily read through my work to check for any errors. For those reading this, you know who you are, thank you.
Dyslexia comes in all different forms, if anyone has any questions, concerns or would like to chat, please reach out to our recruitment team.
All I would ask is, please do not think by disclosing a disability you will be hindered in any way.
(P.S. please excuse any mistakes above 😉)