Thursday 21 August 2014

Tourette's and the Danger of Disclosure

As I spend a lot of time job hunting, trying to lift myself out of the warehouse and the world of unfulfilling under-employment, I find myself thinking about my Tourette's Syndrome, and how much of an impact it is having on my employability.

I suppose there are two angles to this.

1) How Tourette's may affect my self image and make me nervous about applying for jobs.

2) How potential employers may see the condition.

I wonder about point 2) above. I have decided to be totally open about my Tourette's these days when I apply for work, feeling that I prefer to be honest and up front, and not wanting to have to explain things in retrospect if an employer called me in for a "one to one" and asked "Is there anything wrong? It's just we've noticed...blah blah blah etc etc etc."

I mention it on the equal opportunities monitoring forms. I mention it on this blog. The question is, are any potential employers being out off by my Tourette's Syndrome? Even if only subconsciously.

I applied for a Communications related job a couple of months ago which I felt reasonably qualified for - my CV is far from being a disaster area and I have notched up many worthy achievements on it! - but as ever, a week later I got the nice rejection e-mail.

Now I'm sure that there were many better equipped candidates for the role, and looking back I perhaps didn't emphasise certain of my capabilities enough. But in the back of my mind, there is always a few neurons whispering to each other and saying "What if they were worried you were speaking to the local TV news and started hurling obscenities or spitting at them? What if you shouted "big bums!" on Heart FM while doing a serious interview about cancer?"

This is probably pure silliness on my brain's part, but then again there is discrimination against folk with Tourette's out there amongst employers, and of course it is regarded as the one disability that it still seems permissible to laugh at (BTW I don't get all po-faced at Tourette jokes, but many people do and this is entirely within their rights).

I'm not an "advocate" by any means, in many ways I hate the word, but I do feel it is important to stand up for what I am. Frankly if an employer is nervous about Tourette's, then they probably aren't going to be worth working for, and I would hope third sector employers are much more likely to be inclusive when it comes to giving folk like me a job.

In other words, I hope my open-ness is not damaging my career prospects!

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