Should I disclose my stutter when applying for jobs?

Mathew Yaworski

This is a controversial question, there is no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal preference and risk tolerance. Personally, I have always disclosed my stutter on job applications. In instances where an employer sought candidates from employment equity groups, disclosing my stutter assisted me to receive an interview, or  progress in the recruitment process or competition. That said, I am certain that there were occasions where disclosing my stutter worked against me and I did not receive an interview or was screened out of a selection process because I disclosed that I stutter.

My feedback in this article concerns applying to new employers, not internal candidates seeking other positions within their current employer.  

I recommend you consider the following when making your decision.

First, carefully review the job description to decide if it includes language welcoming applications from persons with disabilities. Progressive employers will include this type of language in their job postings. These employers often self-identify as equal opportunity employers (pledging not to discriminate against employees based on protected grounds in human rights legislation) or that they are committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace.  

Concurrently, look at a potential employer’s website to see what information they share about the company and its culture. Reputable employers will include information outlining their commitment to diversity and inclusion, and welcoming applications from disabled candidates. For what it is worth, if a potential employer does not share or advertise this kind of information, you should ask yourself, “do I really want to work there?”

Second, be aware that there are many factors that influence whether a person is invited to an interview. Bias is, unfortunately, part of the hiring process. For example, hiring managers may personally screen applications and find who they wish to interview, rather than those that objectively meet the hiring criteria. There is technological bias where employers use software to screen applications based on how their resumes map against the wording in the job description (how much key words are included in a resume).

You may be thinking that “if I disclose my stutter, potential employers will see it as disadvantage or problem and put my resume aside.”  Unfortunately, this may be the case. I hate to say it, but it is far easier for employers to discriminate against potential employees when they apply. It happens. You may have heard of situations where older or younger applicants, or immigrants (especially those who do not have European names) do not get invited to interviews, despite being qualified. Many of the terms, like “Qualified or Ideal Candidates” in job advertisements are inherently subjective and decided by the hiring manager or person screening applications.  

If you choose to disclose your stutter when you apply, I suggest identifying it in your resume and in your cover letter. In my resume, I include the following language: Employment Equity Group: Person with a Disability (Stutter). I have also used the term “Speech Impediment” in the past. At the end of my cover letter, I reiterate that I have a disability (stutter or speech impediment) and would require accommodation in an interview.  

Considering that stuttering is invisible disability, disclosing your stutter when you apply would be helpful to alert human resources but also to assist in keeping the focus of any subsequent interviews on your qualifications and work experience since (presumably) the company would have contacted you to discuss whether you required any accommodations.  

If you choose not to disclose you stutter when you apply, that is okay too. Not disclosing when you apply will not disqualify you as a candidate. You can ask for accommodation during the interview, but that is a topic for another article.

Disclaimer: The opinions and statements in this article are solely the author’s and do not represent the Government of Canada or the Department of Justice Canada. Nothing in this article should be construed or relied upon as legal advice or opinion.  

Last updated: