I hear from too many people that being disabled is all there is for them and they can’t work. And it is true that some of them can’t due to their disability. But many are younger or can work, but they refuse, or make excuses, to get the necessary training so they can gain employment.
So what does a disabled person need to do when searching for a job? The absolute simple truth is nothing special! That’s right, nothing special. So how do they get past the stigma of their disability? Simple, Apply on-line. And since so many job applications are on-line anymore…
One thing you have to do, no matter what, you have to be better than other applicants. And I’m not talking about their experience or knowledge level, although that doesn’t hurt. Being disabled, we have to be better than other applicants because if we don’t then it can be easily explained as ‘Oh they’re disabled, they can’t…, and so why teach them that if they don’t already know?’ Simplistic… maybe, realistic…yes.
What the disabled have To Do:
There are certain items that you have to do to increase your chances of getting that job. Here is a short list of those areas;
- Pick a job that you are qualified for. There is no sense in applying for a job you are not…you set yourself up for failure.
- Spell & grammar check your resume and cover letter! Unlike others, if it is error free and grammatically correct you already have an advantage because it shows diligence. If necessary, hire a professional write it or check it for errors.
- Polish your skills. From inter-personal to typing to everything in between. By polishing your skills, you’ll have another advantage on the application, interviewing, & training sections of the hiring process.
- Dress for Success. Wear the appropriate clothes for the job you’re interviewing for. It may seem overly simplistic, but hiring managers will judge you by the clothes you are wearing. There are many places that can get you the necessary business clothes for free, just check with a local non-profit agency.
- Show up on time AND alone, if possible. You should always try to show up for your interview or appointment time at least 10 – 15 minutes early. And if you can go it alone… Some of us may need help in getting around the office, but if you can, and then do it.
- Don’t smoke, eat, or drink before your interview. To a non-smoker it will hang on you like stink on a meat packing facility dumpster in the middle of a Missouri summer. Then there is the breath it will cause. You really don’t want the receptionist or interviewer with breath that smells like stale coffee, digested food, or old stale tobacco.
- Don’t fidget, play with paper, or use your phone. Sit as up-right as you can and stay calm. Don’t mess with your hair, tie, or keep arranging your papers. As for your phone, ensure that it’s on either vibrate or turned off. Nothing will turn off an interviewer faster than having your phone ring in the middle of the interview. Most of us aren’t anywhere near to being that brilliant to have the interviewer over look that irritation.
- Have all necessary papers in order ready to hand over. If you’re blind it should be easy, we have to be organized constantly anyway. But have your references, resume’s, and other papers in order ready to hand over with no fumbling for them. Show the employer how organized you are.
For those of us that are disabled, the economy is still on the rebound. So it may take a while to get our foot in the door… still. Add to that, the fact that companies are looking for specific talent and being very selective about whom they even call for interviews, and therefore you have to present yourself better than your competition.
The skills and pre-steps you need to take, even for a disabled person, is all the same. It’s not necessarily about the job or the competition. It’s all about how you present yourself. Something I learned while still in high school: “Walk like you have some where to go and something to do when you get there”
As much as you can, hold your head up straight, shoulders squared, & a confident demeanor & attitude, and try not to be arrogant about it. Whether they want to admit it or not, Perception is reality for any employer. What the employer perceives in your initial meeting is their reality and not much can be done to contradict it.
Getting a job in today’s marketplace is increasingly difficult. With unemployment rate at historic lows and the competition for skilled workers escalating and requirements of employment leave many of us in the cold. But despite our approx. 60% unemployment, we can still get a job doing what we want. We just have to do the little things a tad more impressively than someone else.
Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of workplace violence as well as other security/customer service related issues with time tested and proven ideas. You can follow him on his Facebook page, facebook.com/oneistooomany, or twitter@robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear