By now, you should have determined what your restrictions are, and what skills you are going to market. The following nine tips will help you to take the next steps:
Decide what kind of job or jobs you will be looking for. You may need to change course after you get a feel for the job market and what employers in your area look for. Your local State Job Service Office can help you to determine what is happening in your local job market, and can offer guidance and advice if you do not have a specific goal in mind.
If you are going to try work in a new field, you will want to create a new resume. Focus your resume on the skills, qualifications and experience that are most directly related to the job you are applying for. Be sure to give special treatment to your most valuable skills — from an employer’s point of view. You may want to write several versions of your resume if you are applying for very different jobs. The job application will be asking you for the history of the jobs you've held, so you can be more creative in your resume. There are many free, online resume formats available for your use, and you can use these as samples if you are not comfortable with your own format.
Create a network of friends, family members, and former co-workers. Ask for their contacts in the job market, and contact these people to stay in touch with new opportunities. The best job opportunity may come from someone you know! Consider searching in your neighborhood at places you frequent, for example, where you shop, eat, bank, or do other business.
Search for jobs any way you can think of — be creative! Some examples are; the Internet, local Job Service (public employment office), the newspaper classified ads, the telephone yellow pages, Organizations for the Disabled, Job Fairs, etc. Always have several copies of your resume with you — you never know when you might be in a situation or with someone who can provide you with a lead.
Call local employers to ask about openings that fit your own skills and experience. Ask about the kinds of positions in the company, and the qualifications needed to get those jobs. This information can only help you to learn more and be more prepared in interviews. Tell them about your own background and ask if there is a position available that would utilize your skills and abilities. If nothing is available now, do they expect any openings in the near future? Get the company address so you can send your resume (and be sure there are no typing or spelling errors!). Ask if they know of any other employers in the area that may be looking for someone with your experience (they usually know what is going on with the local competition!).
Keep a record of all calls you’ve made, resumes you’ve forwarded, and applications you’ve completed. Call back or visit these employers about two weeks after you've given them your resume. It’s a good idea to speak to the person who is actually hiring for the position. If you don’t know that person’s name, ask the Human Resources or Recruiting office for it.
Searching for a new job can often be an exhausting experience, even harder than a full-time job. Though it may seem a long time before you receive a call from a potential employer, do not get discouraged! Use your energy to make a daily, weekly, and even monthly plan of what you need to accomplish. You really will feel good when you see your plans on paper, especially as the “things-to-do” list shrinks and changes every day!
Make a specific plan of action. Determine a reasonable number of in-person contacts that you can make daily, as well as Internet and phone contacts. Try to get out of the house at least once daily, preferable in the morning to help you to get up and get moving. Make a daily schedule the day before and plan it around an eight hour day. The more structured you become, the more organized and positive you will feel about the process. Finding a job is a job in itself! If you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time, this will help you to “get back into the swing of things.” You'll need to stick to a daily schedule, get dressed in “work” or "interview” clothes, and will begin to socialize again.
This is hard work so don't get discouraged! You may want to join a job club through your local Job Service, or through a community agency, to help keep yourself motivated, share ideas and frustrations with other job seekers, and to keep yourself on track.
Congratulations! You have made it to the job interview! Now is your time to shine and highlight your skills and abilities to a prospective employer.
Here are some tips to make your job interviewing go more smoothly:
Let’s face it — if you are a person who has a physical or mental limitation, some interviewers will have hidden fears. How you respond to these hidden fears could very well mean the difference between a job offer and no job offer. Your job is to disarm their fears!
Hiring the wrong person for the job is a costly mistake because of the time and energy put into hiring and training. Employers need to find answers to three questions during their interview process:
Does this person have the skills to perform the job?
Will this person be responsible?
Does this person fit into our culture?
Remember that your interview is a two-way conversation. You, too, are conducting an interview to see if this employer and this job fit your needs, so bring your own list of questions and don't be shy about asking them! Is this job going to provide the types of challenges and opportunities you need? Will you feel motivated to do the job? Do you feel comfortable with this company’s culture?
In summary, employers want you to do a good job and most don’t know how to “work with” someone with limitations or disabilities. It is through your positive attitude and readily available answers — and honesty about your abilities — that will help to set the stage for a successful match.