Maybe this is easy for me to say because I already have a job, and am possibly in a very different frame of mind to people who have been unemployed for years. Its true that there are very few jobs on offer, and even less of a choice if you are visually impaired or blind, but if you really really want one, that’s no excuse to completely give up looking.
The reason that I’m saying this is because, earlier today I got a phone call telling me about a new post which is going to be advertised soon. The person thought I might be a suitable candidate because of my previous experience, and because they would prefer to employ someone with a visual impairment for this particular job.
I instantly knew that it was a job I wouldn’t be interested in. Even though I have most of the necessary academic qualifications, I wouldn’t be as interested or as enthusiastic about the area that I would be working in, as the person who takes the job needs to be. Still though, it was nice to think that they thought of me, believed I could do it and wanted to give me the heads up. If I get the funding I need in September, I’ll be more than happy with my current job until the end of 2012.
I wanted to blog about this because it might inspire other people looking for employment. For me, getting jobs turned out to be about who you know, and not what you know. In other words, I didn’t need specific qualifications for the two places I have worked in, but met brilliant people, through other people, who were willing to give me a chance to work and prove myself. Of course, the fact that I had a degree showed that I could work to a certain standard, which is never a bad thing regardless of what you studied.
I can’t stress how important volunteering was in helping me to gain employment, and even now, it still has many benefits. Also it looks good on the old CV! If two potential employees have similar qualifications, an employer is more likely to choose the person who has had the most experience, over the person with the huge gaps in their CV. I know its sometimes hard to realise this when your stuck at home because you don’t have a job. I used to inwardly curse my mum for getting me up at eight o clock three mornings a week for five months when I finished college, to come into her class and help children with disabilities. At the time I had know real interest in doing such a thing, and definitely not as a career, but it was a great experience and helped me to mature in so many ways.
I really believe that if you are an active member of your community, take the time to get to know people and find out what opportunities are around you, you will maximise your job opportunities grately. Many people will always have a perception that people with disabilities are incapable of doing certain things, and as much as we might hate doing it, it is up to us to change this perception. It means working that little bit harder, but it will be worth it in the end.
You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised someday, when you get a random phone call, with a job offer that you really weren’t expecting!