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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Advancing in Employment: Solving Problems and Filling Gaps As a Professional Who is Blind

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There are many paths to advancement on the job and in the workplace. Many people are happy enough when they get the job. Many persons with disabilities or who are blind or visually impaired don't find the road to advancement as clear cut. But, if you set the standard, meet or exceed your employer's expectations, and there is a path for advancement from other employees leaving or retiring, you will generally advance up the ladder. However, not everyone wants to wait years and years for an opportunity to advance. I currently manage the AFB CareerConnect Program, but I have ambitions for advancement in the future, and so should you.

If a higher position isn't immediately available, you can create your own opportunity by increasing your value, solving problems, or filling a gap. Many leaders assess a business's health, culture, structure, issues, and opportunities when joining an organization for the first time. As an employee, you have similar opportunities when starting a position. Many workers don't take the time to analyze their position, job tasks, and opportunities to be more efficient or solve problems. New employees are often hesitant to suggest or offer to change the current formula for completing tasks.

However, we could all benefit from thinking more about how we do our work and what we can do to improve the organizations we work for. Know what your organization values and needs. What are the gaps or needs at your organization or business, and how can you solve or assist in solving these issues? I work for a non-profit, and most non-profits are looking to solidify funding, programs, and reach to their audience. All of this involves planning, initiation, and follow through. The opportunities arise in thinking of new ways to meet goals.

Start Thinking

  • List your everyday tasks
  • Is there a more efficient way to complete any of these tasks?
  • What would this involve?
  • Is there more valuable work that you could be doing?
  • What are the organization's needs or gaps?
  • Make the organization aware that you value the opportunity for adancement
  • Ask about the paths to advancement for your current role
  • Make the employer aware that you are willing to put in the work
  • Demonstrate your ability to innovate

Next Steps

In my case, I saw the opportunity for advancement because of my program's needs. I created my value through a combination of hard work, marketing, and wanting to fill the gaps or needs. My program had a need for solidifying funding needs and expansion. The gap that I saw was related to funding and the organization's interest in expanding the program. I also knew the organization valued team work. I worked with many individuals. Filling the gap created the opportunity for advancement; embracing the organization's value of team work will maintain that opportunity. My organization offered resources and training specific to management and leadership. I accepted and embraced these resources. The lessons learned proved valuable, and I might have to write another post about the most useful lessons learned.

My Path and Considerations

The immediate need at my organization was for more funding, so I worked to identify and create project ideas and proposals that created opportunities for funding. Often, people are intimidated by learning new skills, but if you take the initiative to learn, you can bring value to the organization and add value to your work. If you or your organization lacks the funds for formal training or education, hit the Internet! You can learn skills by searching for tips and advice through online articles, podcasts, courses, or books. I learned the skills necessary for my advancement through my organization's resources and from a free course I attended while at a previous job. Doing a little research and putting in the effort are vital to advancing at a faster pace. Being creative and finding ways to address your organization's needs will make you an asset to your company.

Now that you've determined your path to advancement, you might also enjoy this past post on determining your market value. Good luck and feel free to share your path for advancement with us.


Topics:
Planning for the Future
Personal Reflections
Employment