Why this Olympic gold medalist had to lie on his CV to bag interview

Why this Olympic gold medalist had to lie on his CV to bag interview

To be a future Olympic medallist, you need to have some incredible skills – discipline, determination, dedication – and you might think that these translate well into the world of work.

However, Dylan Alcott, who won gold at the Beijing and Rio Paralympics in two different sports, found that employers were quick to overlook his sporting prowess and focus on something else when he was looking for a job growing up.

“I remember when I applied for a job when I was a youngster and the fifth thing I was asked was, ‘Do you have a disability?’,”

Dylan told the ABC's Q&A program, adding that the application forms overlooked whether he was right for the role or could do the job.

As a result, Alcott took the painful decision to lie on his CV by not disclosing the fact that he uses a wheelchair – and it seemed to pay off, as he scored an interview when he did not tick a box stating he was disabled.

“I turned up and they said, ‘Why didn't you tell us you were in a wheelchair?’” he explained. “And I said, ‘If I did would I have got the interview?’. 

“And they said, ‘Of course you would have,’ and I said, ‘No way!’”

He added that many people have misconceptions about what disabled people are capable of. “People think we are broken, less capable, unemployable, undateable, can't have sex, don't travel, don't do the things that an able-bodied person does,” he said.

Susan Scott-Parker of Business Disability International (BDI) previously told Recruitment Grapevine that there are steps companies and recruiters can take to ensure disabled people have fair access to opportunities – and it starts with fixing application forms.

“Requiring disabled candidates to get though inaccessible online processes should be as unacceptable as requiring a wheelchair user to climb stairs to the interview or putting up the message: ‘no women need apply’,” she said.

“Your procurement department must require IT, Facilities and other key suppliers to meet explicit disability and accessibility related performance standards.”

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Comments (2)

  • Boris
    Tue, 3 Jul 2018 1:49pm BST
    As a wheelchair user myself i have never had to hide my disability on an application form but i do understand the sentiment. Sometimes you feel like you have to work twice as hard to be noticed when you're in a wheelchair, I've always felt that i have to justify why i can do a role even though i have more experience or am overqualified. It also raises the issue, internally, about how accessible a building or campus is. Little things like not have adjustable podiums for presentations, or having to wait for lifts because able bodied people hog them, none of which means i can't do the job but for some employers they simply can't be bothered to put in the reasonable adjustments. It's about time that accessibility laws were enforced across the board, stop making excuses. Disabled people are valuable, it just needs employers to see that.
  • Cindy
    Wed, 27 Jun 2018 11:24pm BST
    Let's stop using the term disabled as well, then. The correct terminology is 'person/people with disability' - a disability doesn't define who you are - it is just a part of a person.

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