We hope these 15 top tips will inspire you in your job hunt this new year.
1. Establish a clear goal and research the employment opportunities in your area. Be realistic about what jobs you are able to do, based on your qualifications and experience. But don’t rule out jobs based on your sight loss – blind and partially sighted people can do many of the same jobs sighted people can.
2. Offer your help on a voluntary basis within your chosen field of work. You may just find yourself in the right place at the right time. Even if you are looking for a full-time job, consider part-time employment first to gain experience and get your foot in the door. These strategies will also be helpful as something recent to talk about in the application and interview process.
3. Establish regular routines and disciplines in line with those expected by an employer. Get yourself out of bed, dressed and ready to carry out your job-search as though you were going to work; this will help get you in the right frame of mind and prepared for your working future.
4. If you are looking for a particular type of role, you need to be persistent. Find websites and recruitment agencies which may advertise the vacancies you want, bookmark webpages, set up a regular routine to check for new vacancies and set up email alerts if possible.
5. On an application form, make sure you show how you meet all the points in the Person Specification (or as many as you possibly can). Record them under the relevant headings, rather than just one big long essay. It makes it easier for the employer to read your form and find the relevant information. They’ll appreciate that you made their job a bit easier.
6. Always spellcheck application forms before submitting. No matter how confident you are, ask for your form to be proofread by someone else. It’s easy to make a silly mistake because you are in a rush or were in the flow, but you don’t want to look careless on your application form.
7. Keep a folder with copies of completed application forms, and keep a record of questions you have been asked at interview. This will make life much easier for you when you come to fill in applications and prepare for an interview next time.
8. If you are offered an interview, prepare by thinking about what the likely questions might be and read and then re-read your application. Have good examples to use to illustrate your experience and skills and rehearse your answers out loud, over and over. Saying it out loud can really help with you deal with the nerves.
9. Be as ready as possible for your interview day. Plan your route to the venue to ensure that you know where you’re going and to make sure that you arrive on time, preferably about 15 minutes early.
10. Don’t be afraid to disclose your disability or eye condition. You are protected by law against discrimination, but you really don’t want to work for any employer who would hold this against you anyway. Don’t feel like you should apologise for your eyesight or for the reasonable adjustments you require. Often the strategies you adopt at this point show just how resilient, determined and strong you are.
11. Many interviewers will have limited experience of working with blind or partially sighted people. There are four main areas which you can address in your interview answers to help a prospective employer understand better:
12. Rejections are never nice, but try not to let them get you down. Always ask for feedback from interviews. You could make assumptions about why you weren’t offered a post, but the reality might be totally different. There may be things you can learn and focus on for the next interview.
13. As soon as you have an offer of employment letter or phone call, get straight on to Access to Work and get your workplace assessment booked. You might need to get three taxi quotes if you want travel assistance, or a note from your GP explaining your eye condition. When it comes to filling in claim forms make sure you have the exact information they are asking for.
14. A demo of equipment, hardware or software would be beneficial before getting your Access to Work assessment. This will give you a better understanding of what is available and what is most suitable for your needs. You can see useful products in an RNIB Products for Life store or by visiting many local societies across the UK. Once Access to Work is in place, it is brilliant and incredibly helpful.
15. Your new colleagues don’t need to understand all about your sight condition, but they should understand the effect that it has on the way you work, get about and interact with the environment. They will have to modify their behavior, maybe by tidying the floor around their desks or dimming the lights. Remember, they may be as anxious as you are. Sighted people often worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. Be open, help them understand about support you might need and work on creating trusting working relationships.