It’s not a straight forward thing for me (Clarke). A life in professional football leads to a list of strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, that don’t regularly fit into the everyday employment scenario. The fact that I’m ‘strong in the air but a bit slow over the first five yards’ isn’t much use to a recruitment agency. Do I tell a prospective employer that ‘I was Player of the Year in 99/00 season’, even though my team got relegated? And does anyone in business consider a 1-0 win on a wet Tuesday night at the King Power stadium a ‘success’? I have to delve into the buzz word world of ‘transferable skills’. Leadership, teamwork, attitude and application are terms that I have to pin to 17 years of dedication and obsession. All to be loosely dismissed by a well-meaning bod in HR as a fanciful hobby that I was ‘lucky’ to be paid for.
So, when it seems like a gargantuan effort to convince people of my worth to their organisation, when on earth do I disclose my Mental Health journey? Do I put ‘survived multiple suicide attempts’ in my list of achievements on the CV itself? Or is it something that warrants explanation and justification in my covering letter? Do I mention it at all and just see whether the topic ‘pops up’ if I get to an interview? Or do I actively avoid any mention of it until I’ve got the job and just hope that I never encounter any issues whilst working there? This is a really difficult question, and one that I don’t profess to have “the” answer to. So much so, that I would love for you to share with me your experiences around this on the forum. It’s a really important discussion that needs to be had. I suppose, with as much humility as possible, it is highly likely that people will be aware of my journey to some extent. Carrie and I are vocal and public about our experiences. I would be very surprised if it wasn’t mentioned at some point in the recruitment process. My approach is to fully disclose at the earliest opportunity which, in most cases, is in the application. I think this serves several purposes. First, I am being true to myself. There are no secrets in my life and this eliminates any potential opportunity for those feelings of fraudulence to surface, or for the “what ifs” to strike in the night. Second, it shows a level of honesty that every potential employer will respect. Third, it gives the employer foresight about the type and level of individual support that I may need whilst working there. Many people say to us that “my company doesn’t support me”, but we have to ask, “what opportunity have you given them TO support you?”
Nobody can help if they don’t know what is happening! Finally, it causes me to reflect on what support I expect from my employer and the support that I have in place myself. Anything that gets me thinking proactively about my well-being, planning in advance to ensure that my support structures and coping mechanisms are in place BEFORE anything happens, is always positive and welcome. So, over to you Do you agree with my approach? What has your experience been of this process? Is there something you/I/we need to do about it? Get involved in the Office discussions on the forum, I look forward to hearing your thoughts x