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Social Media Struggles: Clean it Up Before it’s Too Late

A businessman with his arms outstretched, showing a number of electronic devices.

We all use it. We all upload, post, share, and comment with it every day. But do we truly realize the impact our social media sites have on our ability to get that new job?

Now more than ever employers are researching their potential employees online. They are searching for us on Google and looking through months of Tweets, Instagram selfies, and Facebook rants. And you better believe they will find that one post you don’t want them to find.

Once they discover that undesirable post, you might as well fill out a new job application because employers are rejecting more potential employees than ever before based on what they posted online. In fact, about 1 in 10 candidates will be rejected from a position due to their inappropriate posts.

But what type of posts could prevent you from being hired?

  • Provocative or inappropriate photos and information

Let’s think. Putting a photo online is as permanent as it can get. Even if you delete it from your profile that image can still be floating around in cyberspace. Anyone can get it… including your boss. But why should your boss care about an inappropriate picture? Whether it is a true reflection or not, what you post online can tell someone a lot about who you are. Give the impression you want. Choose wisely before you upload.

  • Posts bad-mouthing a previous employer/employee

Again, let’s think. Bad-mouthing your employer probably isn’t the smartest thing to do. Not only could you be fired, but who would want to hire someone who trash talks their employer? We all know that work and co-workers can become frustrating every now and then, but should we “tell it like it is” to all of our Facebook friends? Probably not. As my mom always tells me, think before you speak and then think again.

  • Posts exhibiting poor communication skills

“Poor communication skills” seems a little fancy for profanity or hot-headedness. It is easy to get caught up in any number of social media rants and slams, but criticizing someone else’s opinion with name-calling and curse words does not show your potential employer that you work well with others. And subliminal tweets are not as obscure as you might think. Try to express your opinion in a polite and professional manner.

  • Discriminatory or other inappropriate language

See! It is all about what you say. Name-calling, profanity, racial slurs… just avoid it at all costs. Not only does it alert your potential employer, it can cause rifts in your social life. Employers are looking for individuals who can work with a diverse group of people so keep your options open and avoid the drama.

  • Posts concerning confidential information from a previous job

When did this ever seem like a good idea? If something is confidential, let’s say… a top secret family recipe that is 100 years old, you might not want to post that if you want to keep your job or even get a new one in the future. Employers want someone who can be reliable and trustworthy. I love a good secret, but you can’t just go telling the whole world.

“But it’s my personal profile,” rejected candidates complain.

Although we use our social media sites for personal uses and to stay connected with friends and family, it can just as easily be accessed by our employers. Employers can learn a lot about you based on what you have said or posted about yourself.

My advice to young job seekers is to be careful of what you post and clean it up before it is too late. You want to leave a good impression with your potential employer, so think before you post something that you might regret. After all, it is the internet. Once it is out there, it can never really go away... Just ask any celebrity! You can always delete photos or posts from your profile, but don’t be surprised if your boss still stumbles across it someday.

So do you really want this new job? Do your social media sites reflect the same answer? You better make sure. Get it cleaned up before it is too late.


The Americans with Disabilities Act: 25 Years of Celebration

The ADA logo

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)! This great accomplishment has helped people all across the country in employment, housing, health care, education, public transportation, and parks & recreation.

Although ADA covers many aspects, I am especially excited to celebrate how Title 1 of ADA has helped blind and visually impaired job seekers achieve gainful employment. Since it was signed on July 26, 1990, ADA has helped calm the concerns of employers and employees when it comes to addressing a disability or accommodations in the workplace.

So in honor of this landmark anniversary, I am encouraging you to find a way to celebrate. Whether it is through some 25th anniversary ADA event or spreading awareness in your local community, try to find a way to share how ADA has positively affected your life.

When I was deciding how I wanted to celebrate, I thought this was an excellent time to help young job seekers know what to expect when applying for a new job. As a recent graduate, I understand how finding that “first” job can be intimidating, but with the right preparation it can be a breeze.

First things first. Whether you know ADA by memory or you don’t have a clue about the legislation, it is important to have an understanding of how it can help you as someone with a disability.Know your rights and make sure to review how ADA can protect you.

Even if you have an understanding of ADA, it can still be difficult to know what to expect. In order to be protected by ADA you must disclose your disability, but disclosure is your decision alone. Some job seekers choose to inform their potential employer about their disability prior to the interview while others choose to wait to disclose this information. This is a decision only you can make. Be sure you are confident in the way you wish to discuss this with your employer or if you even want to disclose this information at all. For more information on disclosure, check out the Job Seeker’s Toolkit.

So if you decide you want to disclose your disability, you will want to explain it in a way that helps the employer understand your vision loss. It can be beneficial to describe how it will affect you in the workplace and what accommodations will help you succeed in your potential position.

Many employers are often unsure how to react around someone with vision loss. In fact, you might be the first person they have ever interacted with who has a visual impairment. However, this should not discourage you. This is your chance to stand out to your potential employer. Make your disability an advantage.

When I first started my internship at AFB, I didn’t have much experience working with someone who was blind. Although my dad has vision loss and I have friends who are visually impaired, I did not have any experience working with them in a professional setting. I was concerned about what I should say or how I should act. I imagine many employers have a similar feeling. Fortunately, Joe was very open with me and that made me feel more relaxed during the interview process. Moral of the story, discussing your disability with your employer can make the process much easier and more relaxed if this is the path you choose.

So after you have made your decision on disclosure, what else can you expect during your first job interview?

The employer will probably want to discuss some of the following:

  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • Your commitment to the potential job
  • Your work ethic and work personality
  • Your biggest accomplishments
  • Your questions and concerns about the position

Although these talking points may vary from interview to interview, the best way to nail any interview is to prepare. So if you don’t know any other way to celebrate ADA this week, check out some of CareerConnect’s free resources and find a job. Getting hired is a rewarding experience. Take advantage of your opportunities and find your workplace success!


Our Stories Interview with Ross Silvers

Ross Silvers stepping onto a bus smiling

As a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, I value the opportunity to spend time with adults who are visually impaired and successfully employed. On those occasions, I find myself noting the skills the adult has and am reminded of what I need to teach my students so they can achieve the same success in the working world.

I recently had lunch with a friend of mine, Ross Silvers. Ross is the Mobility Manger for Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and he uses the bus as his primary mode of transportation. When I picked Ross up for lunch, he asked me if I wanted to eat inside or outside. Even though it was a typical humid Florida day, I chose outside. As I drove, Ross gave me directions for the fifteen minute drive to our waterfront destination; somewhere I had never been. Ross' directions were exact and incredibly helpful as I navigated the hectic lunch time traffic in St. Petersburg. His instructions included landmarks and cues for when I needed to turn and even for where I should park.

As a non-driver and my passenger to lunch, Ross' confidence and preparation for knowing how to get to our destination was appreciated. With his assistance, I was able to enjoy talking with him during our drive to and from the restaurant instead of focusing all of my attention on driving.

What did I take away from my time with Ross? I was reminded the importance of teaching my students to expand their transportation options as non-drivers to include the possibility of riding with friends, co-workers and family members to destinations. It is important for my students to not only know how to politely ask for a ride but also to know how to care for the driver during and after the ride. Teaching these skills to students who live in rural areas where riding the bus is not an option is especially important. People will be more likely to give my students rides if they present with the same confidence and preparation as Ross did.

Consider teaching persons with vision loss the following tips so they are perceived as a contributing passenger and are always welcomed to "hitch" a ride with others:

  • Know the route for the destination in advance.
  • Use a GPS Navigation App on a mobile device to listen to the directions as you ride and share the directions with the driver.

If you frequently ride with the same person, reciprocate with perhaps one of the following gestures:

  • Give him money for gas or pay for an oil change.
  • Buy him a cup of coffee or lunch.
  • Send him a note of appreciation.
  • Offer one of your skills or talents to do him a favor such as cooking dinner or troubleshooting his computer issues.

Ross exudes the same self-assurance and organization as a daily bus rider. He has not let the issue of non-driving prevent him from pursuing and maintaining employment. As your read the interview with Ross, consider what will you take away from him that you could teach your student, your client, your teen, or even yourself to increase employment opportunities for persons with vision loss.

Read Ross' interview in this Our Stories piece!


Summer Challenge: Volunteer

A woman and a visually impaired young man working with an ipad

Speaking as one, millennials tend to be portrayed in society as lazy, unmotivated, and lack work ethic and desire to be involved. However millennials are in fact motivated in different ways than our older generations, and we are more involved than other generations know. So what am I getting to here besides defending my peers in their twenties? Involvement is important no matter what age, more specifically volunteering. According to an Associated Press polling, “Those under age 30 are more likely to say citizens have a very important obligation to volunteer.”

So younger generations tend to volunteer more, that’s great. But volunteering is important to all people of all ages. It is especially important for people starting their journey in the work force or currently employed. This week we challenge you to get involved and volunteer to help others and gain multiple benefits including:

  • Gaining Experience: By volunteering you gain insight into new situations and scenarios. It allows you to develop better social and other skills that cannot be learned in the work place or school alone. It instills qualities in people including empathy and hard work that carry over into school and work.
  • Helping Others.: Helping those less fortunate and giving back to the community you live in or are from is extremely rewarded for both parties. Helping others brightens the attitudes of those being helped, which in turn brightens the attitude of the volunteer. The feeling of accomplishment relieves stress that is so often found in school or work.
  • Making Connections: This may be the most rewarding benefit of volunteering from the eyes of someone in, or looking towards the work force. Making connections is a pivotal part of applying for schools and jobs. Hard work and dedication is key, but knowing contacts that can help push you in the right direction never hurts and volunteering is a great way to meet and connect with people.
  • Career Options: Like interning, some volunteer work also allows you to mirror and observe the work of various career fields. By volunteering you can scout out different areas of work you may be interested in all while helping out.
  • Resumes/College Prep: If you haven’t yet applied for college, don’t worry, the applications aren’t as bad as they are made out to be. The key is to be prepared, and to do that preparation comes in the form of experience. Resumes and applications to schools and jobs are a collection of your past achievements and works. Adding volunteer work to your list is always a great attribute that puts you ahead in both school and work applications.

So this week take this encouragement and drive yourself to find a volunteer opportunity that will reward you and those you help. Volunteering is supposed to make you feel good while doing it, so make sure it is something you are interested or passionate about helping. If you are blind or visually impaired, do not let that discourage you from volunteer work. There are plenty of volunteer positions for those who are blind or visually impaired.

Click here to read more on gaining volunteer experience as a person who is blind or visually impaired, and don’t be hesitant to start volunteering and helping out!

Using the "Fight Song" to Fight Through Transitioning as Someone Who is Blind or Visually Impaired

Joe Strechay, using his iPhone

Persons who develop disabilities, vision loss, or blindness deal with adjusting to this new self, as our view of ourselves changes and often the view of the world changes. The adjustment process is a cycle, and there are steps forward and steps back during the process. I speak to people around the United States about this process and taking control of it. You have to reach people where they are, and as a professional, I need to embrace this theory. Everyone deals with loss or adjustment differently, but many experience common aspects. The commonality is that we all have to take control as to succeed in life and the world.

Recently, my amazing and talented wife, Jennifer Strechay, pointed out a song to me, as I am interested in music, television, films, and popular culture that could possibly apply to my work. She hit the nail on the head with this one. The song is Fight Song written by Dave Bassett and Rachel Platten with the performance by Rachel Platten. Jennifer knows I am passionate about the adjustment to vision loss process, and most people have heard me discuss this. As this truly hits home for me, as I dealt with losing my vision. I think back to my adjustment process and fighting back from my own egocentric view of life and the world. I had to fight back, which meant having to get services specific to blindness skills, counseling for my adjustment, and pushing myself to be a part of the world.

The line, "And all of those things I didn't say"reminds me of how people will compress their feelings, and often not share their fears and feelings about their loss of vision. This all becomes like "wrecking balls in our brain." Bottling up our feelings can cause bigger issues, as we are not dealing with our problems.

The song also says, "This is my fight song, my take back my life song, my prove I'm alright song," which is a powerful statement to me, as we all need to take control of our life. I am a big believer in an internal locus of control. This means we control our destiny, and we can make things happen. I wouldn't have succeeded in life without this belief. So, take back your life, take control, and make things happen. It is time to fight and this seems like a great theme song for persons dealing with vision loss.

I want to commend Mr. Bassett and Ms. Platten for bringing "Fight Song" to us. Take the time to read all of the lyrics and check out the song today. It is time to take back your life! Check out some other inspirational songs to push you forward as well!

The American Foundation for the Blind wants to help you fight back and get access to the services you need. AFB’s VisionAware offers you the VisionConnect app, and that provides you access to AFB’s Directory of Services, resources to assist after diagnosis and depending on your stage in life, and most importantly connection to content to inspire “Your take back your life” step toward success. VisionAware also offers you Peer Perspective blog posts about situations around vison loss and resources. So, don’t let the “wrecking balls in your brain” destroy your life, fight back.