No matter who you are, finding employment in today’s job market is difficult. The competition for jobs are fierce. For each advertised job opening there are dozens or even hundreds of applicants.
If you have a disability, the idea of finding a job might seem overwhelming. For people with a disability the unemployment rate is 70%. This figure of 70% is a surprisingly stable statistic over a wide range of physical disabilities. For example, the chances of being unemployed for a high functioning paraplegic are about the same as a mid-level quadriplegic.
The good news is that 30% are employed and the rate of employment increases with your level of education.
As you work towards finding a job, treat the process as a learning experience and do not think in terms of success or failure. Finding a job is a developed skill and you should not expect to find a job in your first, second or even tenth attempt. The more you are actively moving toward your goal of finding a job, the closer you are to finding that job. It is simple! The more you do something, the better you get at it. This includes finding a job.
The job market is made up of the advertised jobs and the hidden or unadvertised jobs. Remember, there is a potential job anytime you can show your potential employer that you are a bigger asset than a liability. In other words, will you make more money for the company than you cost that company for wages, salary and benefits?
I have had a number of jobs over the last 25 years and none of those jobs were advertised. Unlike an advertised job with hundreds applying, an unadvertised job may have only one applicant. This has to improve your chances. It pays to seek out those unadvertised jobs.
According to a U.S. department of labor statistics; 48% of jobs are found through friends, business contacts and relatives: 24% by direct company contact; 13% by combination of both; 5% job ads; 4% by search firms; 6% through unions, college and private placement firms.
The majority of jobs, 85 % are found through networking and direct company contact. Use friends, relatives and business contacts as sources of information and as your private marketing team. I have found that most people are willing to help, but you have to ask. You may have some preconceived ideas of finding a job. Keep your mind open and consider all the possibilities. You should not limit yourself by what you think is possible but at the same time you have to be realistic and be able to match your job skills to the job. There is no point in applying for a job as an investment banker if you do not have the skills or qualifications.
Before starting your job search, make a list of your skills, education, hobbies and accomplishment with the idea in mind of developing a resume. List as many things as possible, even if you do not think it is important. You can go over it and refine it later. This information you can use to tailor your resume to the type of job you are seeking. If you do not know how to write a resume your local library has numerous books on the subject or contact one of your local social service agencies. They can advise you on where to go for help to develop a proper resume. The job search is a process, so take the time to develop the tools required to find that job. The resume is the corner stone of a well-organized job search because it summarizes your assets, which are of interest to your future employer. In effect, a job search is a means by which you sell yourself to the employer and your resume is your advertisement. In many cases, your resume is the first thing an employer sees, so make it a good one.
(A good source for disability related information of all types is an Independent Living Resource Centre, which has over 500 locations throughout North America. For locations in the U.S. http://www.ilusa.com/links/ilcenters.htm and for Canada http://www.cailc.ca/map.htm ).
My first job I acquired by using what I will call the side door approach. This involves approaching the firm or potential employers for the purpose of information gathering, only. You will find that many people within an organization will speak with you if it is in a none business or casual setting. To get a contact use your friends, relatives and business acquaintances. Chances are that someone you know has a contact within the organization or industry you would like to work in. Once you have a contact speak with them saying who referred you and the reason for your call. Develop your own none threatening approach. Your purpose is not to get a job but to gather information. The person you speak with does not have to be responsible for hiring but only be familiar with the organization. Ask questions like, if I was to apply for a job at your firm who would I send my application to and who is responsible for hiring? Do you know of any job openings and are they hiring? If this person does not have the answers ask if there is anyone else you could talk to. Some will cooperate and some will not. But, it is surprising how many will. If it is a smaller firm you may be able to just drop in. Do not be afraid. It is a learning process. The more people you contact the better your chances are at getting a job.
This process is repeated with as many potential employers as practical. After you have gathered your information you will be able to individualize your covering letters and resume to each potential employer. Target your resume to a specific person, if possible. Follow up with a phone call, fax or e-mail. Be up front about your handicap. You do not want any surprises when you are called in for an interview. If you are not asked questions regarding your disability and how it will affect your job performance, they are not seriously considering you for the job. Put a positive slant on your disability and be prepared to answer questions about your handicap.
If you do not have the required skills, go back to school, take courses, up-grade your skills and keep trying.
Continually develop your network and keep records of your key contacts.
Handicapped or not, most jobs are found by networking.
Use all the resources at your disposal and develop new ones.
Good luck with your job search.
Job Search Websites
The Monster Board http://www.monster.com
Job Partner http://jobpartner.com
Recruiters Online http://www.recruitersonline.com
Career Bridge http://www.careerbridge.com
Job Shark http://www.jobshark.com
DejaNew Netsearch http://www.classifieds2000.com
Rex Donald: Disability Consultant... Visit Rex's website: http://www.rexdonald.com
Copyright © Rex Donald This article may not be resold, reprinted or redistributed in any manner, print or online, without prior written permission of the author. Reproduced in Paralinks with the expressed consent and approval of the author.