Finding a Job
This section has information that will help you find a job. Learn how to write a resume and cover letter, prepare for an interview, and how to deal with the issue of a disability. You will also find helpful tips on appropriate attire, workplace etiquette, and links to employment resources on the Internet. This information will greatly improve your chances of becoming employed. Read each topic carefully and you will learn a lot!
- Keep a Positive Attitude
- Write a Resume and Cover Letter
- Search the Internet for Job Opportunities
- Appropriate Dress and Etiquette
- Telling Your Employer about Your Disability
- Tell Your Employer What Accommodations You Will Need
Keep a Positive Attitude
Searching for a job is a bit like trying to catch a fish when the fish in the pond are not hungry. You may have to cast your line several dozen times before you even get a nibble, and you still might not get a bite. When you do get a bite, and you think you have landed the "big one," it drops off the hook and swims away!
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of finding a job is the many different ways you can be rejected. An employer may not reply to your application or even return your phone call. You could be lucky enough to receive an interview only to be told that you are "not right" for the job. This kind of rejection can leave you feeling depressed or angry. But try to realize that these feelings are a natural part of the job hunting process and that everyone has them. The important thing is not to let them discourage you or get you down. There are many jobs out there. If one doesn't work out, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. The more often you apply and interview, the better your chances of landing a job.
Here are three important suggestions to keep in mind while searching for a job:
- Make an extra effort to care for your mental and physical health.
- Make your job search your full-time job by being organized and even leaving the house to do the "work" of job hunting
- Be sure you have the social support of family, friends, and other job seekers.
Your blind services counselor may be able to help you with additional services and information in your job search.
Write a Resume and Cover Letter
Learn how to effectively promote your skills and experiences to a potential employer through your resume and cover letter.
How to Write a Resume - Learn how to write a resume that will get you a job interview with a potential employer.
How to Write a Cover Letter - Learn how to write a cover letter that will encourage an employer to read your resume.
Search the Internet for Job Opportunities
The Internet is one of the most popular resources used to search for a job. However, it is important to remember that it is only ONE of many resources.
- Only search for jobs in places you want to live
- Search on-line newspapers. Want ads are still one of the popular ways people get jobs.
- Is there a specific company you are interested in? Go to that company website and see if there is a way to apply for a job on line.
- When applying for a job, target jobs you are qualified for and follow all on-line instructions. Ensure that your resume and application clearly indicate a match to the job you are trying to get.
- If you are willing to move, consider publishing your resume on a job board that represents the profession that matches your career choice.
Below are a few places to start your internet job search:
- America's Job Bank: Search through America's Job Bank database of over one million jobs nationwide.
- People First Website: Find your next job through the State of Florida Job Search.
- Florida School System Jobs: Find a job teaching or locate other positions available in Florida's school system.
You should also use other sources of information such as networking with friends and colleagues, newspaper ads, and cold calling to generate job leads. If you need further assistance working with Internet based job search tools, speak with your Florida Blind Services counselor.
Appropriate Dress and Etiquette
This topic discusses proper dress and behavior for interviewing and on the job. Dressing and behaving professionally will increase your chances of getting and staying employed.
How to Dress for an Interview
Regardless of the kind of position you are interviewing for, you will want to take a minute to consider how you will dress. In general, you will want to dress to fit the culture of the organization to which you are applying. Some employers will require a suit. For others, "business casual" may be acceptable. A good guideline to follow is to dress as others do in the same occupation. If in doubt, ask a human resources staff member what they consider appropriate attire for an interview.
Remember, your first impression is a lasting one. It is usually better to dress and appear more conservative than not when attending an interview. It may be helpful to get feedback on your "interview attire" beforehand from trusted friends or a blind services counselor.
Women should wear a simple tailored suit or dress, conservative nail polish and lipstick, and a neat hair style. Flashy earrings should be left at home. Perfume and makeup should be used in moderation. It is an age old question whether a woman should wear pants or a skirt and hose to an interview. In general, it is better to err on the side of tradition because some organizational cultures may still have a preference for knee length skirts. However, it is up to the individual to make this personal decision for themselves.
Men should wear a clean, pressed, conservative suit with a non-flashy shirt and tie. Have your shoes shined and wear plain socks. Your hair should be neat and trimmed. Long hair, pony tails, and extremely long side burns should also be cut. Facial hair should not be worn to interviews. Keep in mind that your favorite beard or mustache will grow back with time, but you only get one chance to impress a prospective employer. Do be sure to pay attention to small details such as cleaning and trimming your fingernails and choosing a conservative watche and jewelry. Interviews can sometimes be held in small offices, so be sure to use only a moderate amount of cologne.
How to Behave Once You Have a Job
- Be on time for meetings and complete work assignments by their deadlines.
- Be polite, pleasant, and courteous, even if you are having a grumpy day.
- Learn office politics - listen carefully and pay attention to office procedures.
- Understand and follow the unwritten rules of business:
- The Boss is always right and always gets the last word.
- Tell the Boss what you know, whether the news is good or bad.
- Never go over the Boss' head without telling him or her first.
- Make the Boss look good by meeting and exceeding your personal and departmental goals.
- Have a positive attitude and accept new assignments as opportunities to shine.
- Stay flexible. Look forward to change and learning new things.
How to Meet People
In the United States, a firm (but not crushing) handshake is appropriate. As a person with a visual disability, it may be up to you to initiate this ritual greeting by extending your hand or nodding your head in the direction of the speakers-voice. Greet the person by their title (e.g., Mr., Ms., Doctor) until they invite you to address them by their first name. If you are meeting international visitors, you may want to make the extra effort to learn their customary greetings and partings. When leaving a business meeting, be sure to ask for a copy of the other person's business card and put it in a safe place. If you would like to cultivate a long term business relationship with that person, you may want to drop them a follow-up note or email.
How to Eat
An employer will often invite a prospective (or current) employee out to lunch or dinner. Even though you may be in a relaxed social environment, you are still being interviewed for a job. Make sure to order a moderately priced entree that will be easy for you to eat. Foods eaten with the fingers and sauces that might stain your suit are definitely out of the question. If the host is having wine or beer with his meal, and invites you to order a drink, you may choose to be "social" and join in (if you are of legal age, of course). But be careful how much you drink! You want to stay mentally sharp during the meal.
If you have special dietary restrictions due to health or religious reasons, be sure to mention these to your host ahead of time. A simple but respectful request like, "May we dine at a restaurant that provides vegetarian options?" may save you from an awkward situation later on. The safest way to survive the mealtime portion of an interview is to be flexible and take your cues from your host.
This webpage on Interviewing will help you understand the three stages involved in the process. Use these tips to improve your interviewing skills.
Telling Your Employer about Your Disability
When, where, and how you disclose your visual disability to an employer is your decision. One factor that may influence your decision is the type of visual disability you have. Those individuals with partial vision loss may choose not to discuss this issue with an employer until they are being interviewed or after a job offer has been made. Those individuals with total vision loss may, out of necessity, need to inform a potential employer of their adaptive technology needs prior to an interview. Browse the resources below to learn more about the issues surrounding disclosure of a disability in the job search process.
Tips Archive: What to Say About Your Disability and When - Find additional tips on disability disclosure from the government of Alberta, Canada.
The ADA: Your Employment Rights as an Individual With a Disability - Review commonly asked questions, including some regarding disability disclosure and the hiring process.
Pre-Employment Inquiries and Disability - Get more detailed information from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's guidelines for acceptable hiring practices for people with disabilities.
Tell Your Employer What Accommodations You Will Need
In addition to promoting your skills to potential employers during your job search, you will probably have to "educate" them about your disability and any related accommodations you may require. A non-disabled employer may simply be curious (and unknowingly rude) with their questions when they meet a person with a visual disability.
As you probably already know, it is important to be patient with the non-disabled, while at the same time setting your own boundaries of what questions you consider appropriate or inappropriate. However, if you reveal to an employer that you have a disability, they are permitted to ask what kinds of accommodations you would require for the job. Thus, it is to your advantage to be more knowledgeable than the employer about your disability and any needed accommodations.
Be sure to keep the focus of the hiring process on how you are capable of matching and exceeding the capabilities of the non-disabled candidates you may be competing with for a job. Here are some important points to emphasize:
- Most accommodations cost less than $500 to introduce (it would be helpful if you knew the approximate cost of the accommodations you would require).
- Technical expertise for choosing and installing accommodations is available from both the Florida Division of Blind Services and the private sector.
- The accommodations will quickly pay for themselves in a short period of time.
Prepare yourself to educate employers. Read the information for employers on workplace accommodations section of this website.