Job-Hunting Tips for People with Disabilities from Lighthouse Guild
October 13, 2021
October is Disability Employee Awareness Month
NEW YORK (October 7, 2021) — According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were employed, down from 19.3 percent in 2019. This reflects the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain it.
For people with disabilities, networking is key to job-hunting and finding new employment opportunities in today’s challenging environment.
“When people hear networking, they often immediately shut down, fending off images of awkward small-talk and sterile conference rooms. But that is not real networking,” says Jaydan Mitchell, a certified professional coach and the Transitions Coordinator for Career & Youth Services at Lighthouse Guild. “Real networking is about offering value to others – it’s staying in touch, making connections, giving time and offering help.”
“A nourished and well-developed network will very often be the gateway to future opportunities,” he adds.
But what does networking look like in 2021?
There are a few tips to help people network and job-hunt, even virtually.
- Take Advantage of LinkedIn. Make sure LinkedIn profiles are looking sharp and current. An excellent way to use LinkedIn is to write recommendations for connections. Thoughtfully written recommendations will strengthen a profile, and the effort may boomerang back into recommendations for the job-seeker.
- Get comfortable with the camera. Become proficient with video platforms like Zoom. Learn how to place the camera correctly. Set up the proper lighting. Practice, practice, practice! When that Zoom interview comes along, it’s important to convey strength, professionalism and skill.
- Volunteer virtually. As a volunteer, a person is not only supporting a cause, but is also building relationships. This can lead to meaningful connections. There are still many ways to volunteer. Virtual tutoring, calling elderly neighbors, mentoring and fundraising are some examples.
- Schedule informational interviews. An informational interview is a conversation with someone in a role or industry of interest. These can often be the springboard into other conversations, including job interviews. Take advantage of the trend of meeting remotely and get onto people’s calendars. A Zoom meeting is much easier than a trip to the office, so people in the job market can reach out to someone in a field they want to learn more about. Fifteen or twenty minutes could open many doors.
- Side hustles are real hustles. If there’s something a person has been wanting to try for a while, now might be the time to start. Many professionals are dabbling in new gigs that can be done from home. Freelance writing, website building, selling handicrafts – you name it. Each new customer or client served is a new member of the network. Similarly, taking an online course or pursuing a certification can also grow the circle. New classmates, new connections.
As much as the pandemic has complicated lives, it has also opened up new opportunities. Networking is still possible, and in some ways, even easier. Seize this time to learn and connect.
About Lighthouse Guild
Lighthouse Guild is dedicated to providing exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals. We provide coordinated care for eye health, vision rehabilitation and behavioral health as well as related services. Our podcast series, “On Tech & Vision with Dr. Cal Roberts” offers information and insights about technological innovations that are tearing down barriers for people who are blind or visually impaired. For more information, visit Lighthouseguild.org.
Source: Lighthouse Guild
Contact: Bryan Dotson, Manners Dotson Group