Ten Steps to Start Your Job Search
Before you start, you should know that a job hunt is rarely easy, but the effort is worth it when you get your job!
How long it will take to land the job you want depends on:
- where you live,
- your qualifications,
- the job market in your desired field, and
- how much time you dedicate to your job search.
The following are good, logical steps to take in preparation for a job search.
- Decide what you want to do. There are endless sources of assistance for this; one of the most widely read is a book called What Color Is Your Parachute? This book is published annually, so use the latest edition if possible. The book's author, Richard Bolles, also manages a web site that's designed to help you determine what you want to do and what you'd be good at doing. It's worth a visit at www.jobhuntersbible.com. Your state's employment services office may be able to help, too, as well as your school or rehabilitation counselor.
- Get comfortable using the Internet, if you aren't already. So much information is available online, you are cutting yourself off from a world of help if you aren't able to do on-line job research and submit applications. Note: be sure to purchase and install anti-virus software for your computer, and keep it up to date. Most antivirus software comes with an update subscription that needs to be renewed annually. An e-mailed resume with a computer virus attached won't be read and won't make a good impression, so keep your computer virus-free.
- Don't try to do the entire job search alone. Finding that first job can be tough and take longer than you anticipated, so to keep your spirits up and increase your options, accept assistance for your job hunt. Take advantage of the experience, expertise, and networking capacity of your friends and family. Also, outplacement counselors, your school or college's career center or placement office, members of your church, former coworkers or classmates, and local or federal government employees such as rehabilitation counselors, career counselors, and job search coaches can help enormously. They can help you find resources and contacts, help you stay upbeat, give you ideas, and encourage you explore options.
- To make ends meet and get out of the house, you may want to accept a job that isn't your dream job. Until you find that dream job, consider entry-level jobs available that match your skills and, if possible, your interests. If you can afford to, consider taking an internship or volunteer position to gain relevant work experience. This will also increase your chances to network. Statistics show that who you know makes a huge difference in how long it takes to get the job you want.
- Set up informational interviews with workers in the field of your choice. AFB's CareerConnect mentors are a good resource for this activity. You can arrange informational interviews with people working in your field to learn more about working in an industry, to get expert career advice, and to start building a network of contacts in your field.
- While you are looking for that dream job, continue to develop your work-related skills. Communication skills, especially, can make the difference between a job offer and no job offer. If there are classes available that you could take to increase your employability, take them if at all possible. And work on your attitude—be as enthusiastic as you can—it really helps.
- Don't go to graduate school assuming it will be the ticket to your dream job. If you're attending school just to buy time because you can't make a decision, it could be a complete waste of time, energy and money. Graduate school should be used as a means to a well-researched end. You can always return to school, if you discover that you need an additional degree or further skill development.
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Rather than only looking for jobs on-line, for example; use the Internet, career fairs, networking for unadvertised or future job openings, and any available local employment resources. Remember: how much time you devote to your job search impacts how quickly and successfully you will find that job you want. Devote a set amount of time on a daily basis to your job search activities.
- Organize, organize, organize. While you are figuring out what you have to offer an employer (your strengths) and the characteristics of your dream job, keep notes. You may want to have a folder or an electronic file where you can keep track of with whom you speak, capture good advice, possible leads, etc. This will help you remember what you've accomplish and give you confidence as you progress with your job search; in addition, it will help keep you focused.
- Develop a good statement of disclosure concerning your visual impairment—what you want to say to others that you are comfortable with and that will help them understand your strengths and limitations. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Script your disclosure. Write it down and have it critiqued: run through it with family members and friends, and with people in the working world. Rehearse your disclosure script until you feel comfortable and good about it, not with the words you say, but also consider and get feedback on your body language.
- When you prepare your script, avoid being too clinical or too detailed. It may be of great interest to you, but the interviewer wants to know only four things: Can you perform the job safely? Will you be there? Can you do the job as well or better than anyone else? And, how will you do things that normally sighted people do visually, such as read, write, use the computer, and so forth?
- Be positive about your skills and abilities. Use examples of tasks or jobs you've accomplished to demonstrate your skills and abilities. The more positive and demonstrative you are, the more you convey that your competence and give evidence that you "just happen to have a disability." The reverse is true, too: the more you discuss your disability and resultant limitations, the more important it may become an overwhelming and negative characteristic in the employer's mind.
- Along with being positive, be proactive: take essential assistive technology items and low tech tools with you to the job interview. If you use a tool that's too large to carry easily, such as a video magnifier, take a picture or a product flyer with you. Borrow tools if necessary! That way, when you're assuring potential employers that your computer will help you do the job, you can demonstrate by using JAWS on your laptop.
- To help potential employers understand how easily you can fit into the work environment, share information about CareerConnect® and direct them to the CareerConnect® Virtual Worksites so they can see for themselves what blind and low vision workers can do and the tools they use.
For more information, please call toll-free: (888) 824-2184 or e-mail the CareerConnect® staff at: firstname.lastname@example.org.