stammerheadshark * blog about living with an acquired neurogenic stammer

“Excellent verbal communication skills essential”

Posted on: September 16, 2009

That’s what it says on the job specification. That, and every other spec of about a hundred that I’ve looked at.

I never thought that job hunting back home was ever going to be easy, especially in the midst of a recession; but I also hadn’t anticipated having my normal speech taken away from me so swiftly either.

Seriously, if I have to see those words again, I’m liable to scream. Well, at least I could again if I wanted to now that my stuttery speech has come back again. I haven’t had to scribble of pieces of paper to communicate for several days now – thank goodness, because it’s really not fun.

So, anyway – jobs. It really is a rubbish situation to be in.

Every application I look at seems to preclude that I’m not an acceptable candidate based on my stammer. And I know that employers can’t discriminate, but there’s outward discrimination, and then there’s knowing that you’re looking at employing someone who can’t speak at all every few weeks and takes a week  to be regain the speech again. Truth be told, I’d be reluctant to hire them too.

And to not disclose this at interview, assuming I got that far in to the interview process – well, I’d just feel utterly dishonest. Because of course it has an impact on work capacity – almost everything you can think of job-wise requires you to be able to communicate with others. I know, I’ve thought about it a lot.

The most frustrating thing about it all is that I am capable, I’d willingly throw myself into the most challenging of roles. Unfortunately, looking at the options available to someone with my problems with speech the jobs that are suitable on the whole are low skilled and lowly paid minimum wage jobs – if you can get them. Which to be quite honest is soul destroying.

I didn’t go to university, do all the extra curricular stuff, and spend years working crap jobs to fill out a CV with the necessary background to end up back where I started. It was poorly paid work then, and things really haven’t changed much.

I spoke to a friend about all this last week (albeit on paper, scribbling as fast as my hand would let me) and he said that if an employer can’t see past the stammer and speechloss to recognise my skills, then would I really want to be working for them. And the truth of the matter is he’s completely right; however, as I pointed out to him – being right doesn’t pay the rent.

So, it’s back to filling out applications, keeping my fingers crossed, and carrying on with holding down the job I have in Leicester until the end of October when we’re able to move back home to Southport.

Hopefully by then we’ll have managed to find the time to find suitable (or most likely any old) jobs for both of us and a flat to rent. It’s a tall order, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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3 Responses to "“Excellent verbal communication skills essential”"

There was an interesting comment made by a speaker at the BSA conference last week. He is also a person who stammers and works as a life coach. He was giving advice on how to handle interviews and he used an interesting way to disclose – tell employers that you’re a person who sometimes stammers (PWSS).

It’s a good point; but I can’t cover my stammer and it’s there all the time! It’s pretty evident to anyone who speaks to me!

But I suppose there are benefits in that the panel would be made to feel at ease with it (you’d assume).

For a covert stutterer though, this is probably excellent advice.

I agree with your friend – you should not even want to work for someone who is close-minded and pigheaded enough to discriminate against a stammer. There are kind and open-minded employers out there who will focus on your experience rather than your speech (even in this ridiculous recession).

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