[nfbwatlk] Job hunting

Dean Martineau dean at topdotenterprises.com
Fri Nov 7 05:26:12 UTC 2014

For what it's worth, Bookshare has the 2015 edition of What Color Is Your


-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Mary ellen
via nfbwatlk
Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2014 12:58 PM
To: 'NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List'
Subject: Re: [nfbwatlk] Job hunting

I just reread "What Color Is Your Parachute."  For those of you who don't
know about this book, it was all the rage for job seekers in the 1970s.
Unlike many fad books, the writer of this one has worked hard to keep it up
to date.  I recommend it as a beginning point if you're looking for a job.
Here are a few thoughts that came to me after reading his book again.

I believe that looking on web sites for job listings is largely a waste of
time, if you're hoping to get hired for one of the posted jobs.  It's not a
waste of time if you're intending to explore the job market, find out who's
hiring, for what jobs, and at what wages.  Use posted job listings as a
means of getting a snapshot of the type of economy out there.

Then the real work begins.  If one of the companies in your area interests
you, find everything you can about that company and read it.  What appear to
be its strengths?  Where is it facing challenges?  What particular skills do
you have that will help the company meet its challenges?

I realize this seems silly when what you want to do is be a customer service
representative in a call center.  The job seems fairly straightforward and
the company's objective plain.  On the surface it would seem that what you
need to prove is that you have a nice phone manner, are genuinely interested
in helping the customer, and that there are ways for you to accomplish the
job as a blind person.

There are a lot of people out there with nice phone voices and a sincere
desire to be of help.  They don't have the added complexity of needing
alternative techniques and accessible technology.  So that would seem to put
you at the end of the line and the bottom of the barrel.

Not necessarily!  If you can get to someone who does hiring, you can
demonstrate that your superior preparedness and insightful problem solving
is precisely what they need.  Frame any discussion of blindness around how
learning to be blind has made you flexible and good at figuring out new and
different ways to get things done.

That won't always work.  If there really is a technology hurdle that can't
be solved, like the one Mike described, you may not be able to help that
employer by becoming a great employee.  I'm somewhat discouraged at the
frequency with which we face this problem, but the problem of no independent
access to print used to be the norm and blind people were still hired.
Collectively we can solve these problems, too, though the process is bound
to be frustrating.

Employers really don't care whether you're blind or sighted.  They care
about whether you can do the job they need done with the least possible
inconvenience to them.  Your task is to show them that hiring you will
ultimately be the most convenient and effective choice.

What do you have going for you?  Each person will answer that question
differently.  All answers ultimately come down to skills, character, and
personality compatibility.  .  Find out what you can about the corporate
culture.  Is it a laid back atmosphere, or is it high pressure?  Do they
want people to do things the way they've always been done, or is the company
a place where fresh ideas are valued?  Do workers go out for a beer together
at the end of the work week, or does everybody just get out of there as soon
as the shift ends?

If you know somebody that works for one of your target companies, interview
that person informally.  Can you get an introduction to a supervisor in the
department where you want to work?  If you can, make it clear that you're
interested but do not expect to have a job interview or be hired.  Your
purpose is to find out what the company might be looking for in the near
future and whether you've got abilities the company needs.  Frame the whole
thing as an exploration of how you can help the company.  Do that in your
own mind, too, not just as a nice sounding gambit.  The more your frame of
mind shifts to helping the company succeed, the more creatively you will be
able to find tools and techniques.  Also -- and this is really significant
-- you might decide that you really don't like the place much and you'd
rather not work there.  

Remember that a job hunt and interview is a two-way conversation.
Applicants often subtly give away their personal power when their only
thought is "Oh, I hope they like me and will hire me."  Remember that you
are evaluating the company, too.  If you work for them, you'll be giving
them half your waking hours five days a week.  If you really don't like the
atmosphere, you're letting yourself in for a lot of misery by accepting a
job there.  Remember that you're involved in mutual evaluation and you'll
gain much more control of the process.

It's also important to keep in mind the task of the people you're talking
to.  You should always remember, for example, that the real purpose of
personnel departments (now called HR or similar acronyms) is to weed out
applicants. They're gate keepers.  If you happen to meet a personnel
department person willing to be an advocate for you with managers, you've
found a gem!  Otherwise, you need to get to the people who actually do the
hiring. If you get a line supervisor interested in hiring you, things will
go more smoothly.

In "What Color Is Your Parachute?" there's a chart describing the
effectiveness of a lot of job search techniques.  Most of the techniques
they teach in job hunting classes, like preparing resumes, answering on line
ads, etc. have effectiveness rates under fifteen per cent.  He claims that
the strategy he proposes is effective 86% of the time.  This rambling post
hasn't done justice to the kind of job research he suggests.  I believe he's
right, though.  Especially for blind people, doing very targeted research
and seeking mentors and allies is the most effective strategy.

Good luck, Debbie.  You have a lot to offer a perceptive employer.  You're
intelligent, well spoken, considerate of others, friendly, willing to put
yourself out there and learn new things, loyal, inclined to finish what you
start.  I could go on, but that list alone should be enough to make you
highly sought after.  You need to find a way for employers to discover the
things about you that your friends know.  If you can, you won't be out of
work for long.

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Walt Cone
via nfbwatlk
Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2014 8:26 AM
To: debby phillips; NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List
Subject: Re: [nfbwatlk] Job hunting

nt from my IPhone
----Walt Cone
Sent from my iphone---

> On Nov 6, 2014, at 01:52, debby phillips via nfbwatlk
<nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Well, I just spent the evening looking at jobs.  I found a company that
I'm going to contact, though I think their call center jobs are all
temporary.  The last one they posted was for people to help folks with the
Affordable Care Act.  I wish I'd known about this job last winter.  I might
have applied for it.  It would have only lasted four months, but it was a
great call center job.
> So okay, I have questions.  We talk about how blindness shouldn't get in
the way of living the life we want.  So right now, I want to get a job and I
pretty much don't care what I do.  My broad goal is customer service.  Boy,
that includes everything from truck driver to selling cars at Camp
Chevrolet.  Lol.  So here are a few jobs that I'm wondering if blind people
have done, and how; cashier at a store; there also is a job for a book
seller at Barnes and Noble.  I love books, and wonder if you all know of
anyone who's done this kind of job.  Also, what about selling or working at
an insurance company like State Farm? (They seem to be hiring like crazy
around here for whatever reason).
> Okay, next question.  I have to go to the Employment Service Division
Office for a three-hour class on Monday.  (If I don't go, I could be denied
unemployment benefits).  If I call them tomorrow and tell them that I'm
blind and will need assistance, will I get it? I have a folder with my most
current resume, and applications that I've done, which I'll take.  But Craig
says that he doesn't think he should go with me, that they should give me
stuff in an accessible format (which they won't).  The purpose of this class
is to learn how to write resumes, I guess, and some other stuff.  Other then
showing up to fulfill their requirement, is this going to be a waste of
time? (I don't really have that many sighted friends here, so if Craig
doesn't go with me and they can't or won't help me, is this just going to be
a three hour time of frustration?
> It irritates me that I already know that I'm going to walk in the door and
they will all freak out because they won't know what to do about this blind
lady who's going to come to their class.  I don't mean to sound whiny.  I
probably do.  Sorry about that.  But any suggestions about how to approach
this class and at least get something out of it, would be appreciated.
> I guess I'd best go to bed.  After the elections, I'm afraid we're all
going to find ourselves falling backward about 20 or 30 years.    Peace,
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i Debbie,

     Unfortunately to get the unemployment benefits you will have to attend
the classes required to get your unemployment benefits you payed taxes to

     I remember at one time they would deny benefits to a blind person and
tell them to go to the "blind agency" as I was told to do in Arizona.  I
fought the system and won but then had to do what was required by
unemployment and what Services for the blind required me to do.  I have
learned to get a job you have to have the skills but you also have to play
the games too.

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