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Back to the Basics: The Art of Reciprocating Support and Favors as a Professional who is Blind or Visually Impaired

woman using a letter writing guide and dark black pen

Last Friday my husband had a dinner function at work. He had asked me to accompany him, and I was eager to attend. We scheduled a babysitter two weeks in advance—Friday morning arrived, and that sitter was sick. I called two back-up sitters, with no luck. At this point the only way I could attend was enlisting the help of a friend. I called my friend who selflessly accommodated my last-minute request to watch our two preschool daughters.

I called my husband to tell him our friends would watch the girls and I would be his date after all. His response: "Great! I'll pick them up a bottle of wine on the way home." Um. Wow. My husband was practicing a healthy give-and-take in the relationship; something that should have crossed my mind, but hadn't.

Amidst the busyness of life, it's easy to ask for favors here, there, and everywhere, while forgetting to look outward and return the kindness.

So, dear reader, remember:

  • Don't look to the same individual for favors again and again. If the coworker or friend doesn't have good boundaries and eventually tell you no, he'll continue saying yes and almost certainly grow resentful.
  • If an individual performs a favor for you, return the specific favor when possible. I'll happily babysit for my friend the next time she has a similar last-minute request. If a coworker agrees to trade a shift with you, you should return the favor by trading a shift with him the next time he is in a bind.
  • If an individual performs a favor for you that will cost him money, compensate the individual. If you are asking for a ride from a coworker or friend, compensate the gas money.
  • If an individual performs a favor for you that will cost him time, give a small, appropriate gift. In my example it was a bottle of wine. This is most appropriate when outside the confines of work; you wouldn't gift wine to a coworker who helps you with a group project, but you could gift wine to that coworker if he helped you outside of work.
  • Write thank you cards to individuals who have gone out of their way to serve or assist you. Sometimes a thoughtful thank you note is most appropriate within the confines of work.
  • Describe the individual's helpfulness to his supervisor; he will appreciate the specific praise.
  • Always verbally express your gratitude directly to the one who supported or assisted you.

My final suggestion is to pay for services when help is consistently needed. If mowing my lawn is impossible or impractical for me, I will hire a teenager or professional service instead of repeatedly asking my neighbor to help me as a favor.

Sure, we don't technically want to keep score with giving and taking. However, when relationships feel lopsided, folks feel taken advantage of and grow resentful. We want individuals to feel appreciated.

If you are a professional working with students or consumers who are blind or visually impaired, utilize CareerConnect's Social Skills Lesson Series when teaching related lessons.


CareerConnect app icon Take the time to 'Like' AFB CareerConnect on Facebook and Download the Free AFB CareerConnect App in the iTunes App Store.


Topics:
Low Vision
Employment

Recipe for Success: The Secret Ingredient to a Compelling Cover Letter

recipe card with lines and place for ingredients and instructions

You know the necessary ingredients for creating a cover letter:

1-3 Clean and sturdy white sheets of paper (if your cover letter will be printed)

Internet and telephone for research purposes

Professional words and tone

You know the recipe for creating a suitable cover letter:

Step 1: Find out who the recipient of your cover letter will be, and address the letter to the individual by name.

Step 2: Do your homework on the workplace and open position. State how your skills and experiences will complement the workplace and fill the gaps the open position has left.

Step 3: Highlight your greatest strengths, as they relate to the needs of the employer.

Step 4: Thank the reader for her time, and express your eagerness to interview for the position.

Step 4: Close the letter in a professional manner: “Sincerely, Shannon Carollo”.

But, do you know the secret ingredient to devising an irresistible, compelling cover letter?

Food without herbs and spices? That's not irresistible. To add full-bodied flavor to an otherwise plain cover letter, add a heaping dash of you. Let your personality and character shine through. You’re looking for a workplace culture well-matched with you, so why not showcase your best traits and honest temperament in effort to attract the workplace that appreciates and jives with you. Does this mean you have to sound enthusiastic and animated? No way, allow your cover letter to reflect you, accurately.

Allow me to paint a picture:

Bland: “I have been a personal care assistant for five years. I worked with two clients, both senior citizens who had Alzheimer's disease. I would therefore be a good candidate for working at your facility, caring for senior citizens."

Infused personality: “For the past five years I have had the privilege of providing care for two senior citizens. With patience and a quiet temperament, I cared for my clients' cleanliness, time management, and nutritional needs. My attentiveness, sensitivity, and calm nature allowed me to detect early signs of frustration within my clients, and guide them coolly through problem-solving techniques. For example…"

The hiring personnel must see that you not only have the skills and experience for the job, but you also have a temperament and personality that will mesh well with the existing team of professionals. For more information about writing a stellar cover letter, read Tools for Finding Employment: Writing a Cover Letter.


CareerConnect app icon Take the time to 'Like' AFB CareerConnect on Facebook and Download the Free AFB CareerConnect App in the iTunes App Store.


Topics:
Low Vision
Employment

Pay Periods, Withholdings, and Deductions, Oh My! A Tool for Teaching Basic Tax Information to Teens with Visual Impairments

box gift wrapped in $50 bill

The 2015 tax season is upon us. I can't think of a better time of year to begin teaching tax terms and principles to your students, teens, or consumers who are blind or visually impaired. As April 15th draws near, all will hear the related buzz words: taxes, tax day, tax refund, withholdings, and deductions. Give your students the gift of being in-the-know, while preparing them for their first of many contributions to Uncle Sam: the first paycheck.

Saving you time and energy, we have written the lesson plan for you. Check out CareerConnect's Understanding Paychecks lesson, designed to acquaint students with paychecks, pay periods, withholdings, deductions, and a W-4. Don’t stop there! Utilize the entire Money Management lesson series.


CareerConnect app icon Take the time to 'Like' AFB CareerConnect on Facebook and Download the Free AFB CareerConnect App in the iTunes App Store.


Topics:
Low Vision
Employment

When to Say “No” at Work as a Person who is Blind or Visually Impaired

Two employees who are visually impaired, hard at work at their desks.

I read an article this week regarding the importance of saying “No.”

Yikes, guilty as charged, over here. I don’t know about you, but too often I give an instant yes, and slowly grow resentful. I feel resentful that I was even asked to perform such an “enormous favor” for a friend or acquaintance. In actuality, I should feel irritated at myself for saying “Yes”, when I really wanted to say “No.”

It’s a “passive person” problem, and I’m over it. I’ve got the book Boundaries on my nightstand, and this year is all about healthy, assertive communication.

But, when is it acceptable to say “No” at work?

  • Identify your goals and priorities, and the goals and priorities of your workplace. These are what you should be saying “Yes” to. If you are being asked by coworkers to help with projects, perform favors, or attend events that do not relate to either your or your workplace’s goals or priorities, consider saying “No”.
  • If you are running ragged with work responsibilities, so much so that you're core responsibilities are neglected, consider the extra duties you can relinquish. Say "No" to those tasks by delegating them, determining what can be left unfinished, or negotiating responsibilities with your supervisor.
  • If you are being asked to perform another person's responsibility, consider saying "No."
  • If you are being asked to bail a coworker out of his predicament (caused by his irresponsibility), consider saying "No." Performing a favor for another is helpful for relationships, but enabling others is not helpful to anybody.
  • If you are consistently working more hours than originally agreed upon, consider saying "No."
  • As an employee who is blind or visually impaired, you were hired because you were deemed qualified to perform the essential job functions of your position. If you are asked to perform nonessential job functions, particularly visual tasks (sorting paperwork, visual inspection of items, reading package labels, etc.), but not limited to visual tasks, consider saying "No."
  • If you are being asked to tolerate or carry out illegal, immoral, or unethical tasks, consider saying "No."

I hope you feel inspired, as I do, to take the time to reflect on your personal boundaries. Saying "Yes" may feel like the nice, selfless thing to say, but if you're left feeling resentful, ragged, and uncomfortable, it may not be "nice" in the end.

Now that we've established it can be acceptable to say "No", stay tuned for "How to Say 'No'". For information on teaching assertiveness training, read or utilize the Assertiveness Training lesson series.

  • Inspired by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend's book, Boundaries

CareerConnect app icon Take the time to 'Like' AFB CareerConnect on Facebook and Download the Free AFB CareerConnect App in the iTunes App Store.


Topics:
Low Vision
Employment

Counting Down to Graduation: February: Finding the Right Job, Part 2

Two men, one older and one younger, work together at a desk.

Question: Is there anyone who can give me advice about finding the right job for me?

So you’ve started your career search, but you want something more than numbers and stories. Why not connect with a mentor? Why not try networking?!

Networking is an excellent way to open up new opportunities, but it can also help you figure out if the career you are interested in is really what you had in mind. Sometimes the best way to learn about a career is to talk to someone who is currently working in that field. This is where having a mentor comes in handy.

Mentors have firsthand knowledge of what it takes to be successful. They can offer advice about workplace accommodations, assistive technologies, and any other concerns you might have when researching a new career.

From my professors at school to my supervisors at work, I have several mentors who have helped me figure out what it takes to be successful in any career. They have taught me the importance of working hard and finding the right fit for me.

But not all of your mentors have to be from school or work. In fact, making new connections online seems to be the latest trend in networking. It is important to reach out to social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter when trying to expand your network. Creating an account on CareerConnect has also proved to be beneficial when searching for a new mentor.

As professionals with vision loss or blindness, CareerConnect mentors can offer job seekers insight on employer expectations including job requirements, education, and training, salaries, and the future prospects of the field.

By signing up as a registered user on CareerConnect, you will have full access to the CareerConnect E-Mentoring Program. With over 2,000 mentors from around the world, your chances of finding a mentor are pretty good.

But how do you connect with a mentor on CareerConnect?

Simple, you can make new connections by conducting a mentor search.

You can do a simple search by typing in a key word and selecting a country, or you can do an advanced search. Conducting an advanced search can help you narrow down your mentor search by selecting a specific state or province or even by vision status.

After you have found a mentor you wish to connect with, you can send them a connection request, similar to a friend request, or you can send them a private message.

Making new connections can be intimidating, but they are worth taking the risk. I know that my mentors have helped improve my chances of achieving success.

Take the risk today and expand your network. Connect with a mentor online with CareerConnect!

Other Resources


CareerConnect app icon Take the time to 'Like' AFB CareerConnect on Facebook and Download the Free AFB CareerConnect App in the iTunes App Store.


Topics:
Planning for the Future
Personal Reflections
Employment
Online Tools
Education
Transition
Social Skills