We received some great feedback for How to Get a Job: Part I. So without further ado, onto part II!
During your discussion the person you are interviewing may speculate about how a person with a disability could do the necessary work. Try to avoid this because the person probably has little or no knowledge of disability. You should assume responsibility and take control of the conversation by saying, “If you were to hire a person with a disability, he or she should take responsibility for knowing how to get the job done.” Then move on to the next question. Don’t get involved in guessing games about how this or that circumstance could be handled. You’re here to learn about the field, not to discuss disability. Usually potential employers will be impressed if you simply state that figuring out these details would be the responsibility of the would-be employee.
If there are loose ends–pieces of information, possible contacts, etc.–that aren’t immediately available, never leave it to a potential employer to get back to you. You should say, “I’m really hard to reach, so why don’t I call you? When would be a good time?” Try never to get yourself in the position of waiting for calls.
When you have asked your last question, get up and leave. More interviews have been ruined by staying too long than for almost any other reason. This employer is busy, and so are you, so get out as soon as you reasonably can.
Some people have suggested that this process is a bit dishonest. That is, if you disguise the fact that you’re looking for a job, isn’t that deceptive? Yes, it certainly would be deceptive, so that’s not what I am recommending. If you really don’t think you can learn anything by talking to middle managers and CEO’s, you shouldn’t conduct the interviews. I am proposing that the more information you gain the better able you will be to contribute to the field professionally and that these informational interviews are an honest process through which to educate yourself. I am also quite certain that, if you are going to get very far in any field, you need to know the people who are doing the hiring.
C. Follow your interview with a thank-you note and a résumé. Your résumés should be crafted to address the particular job and employer. Focus on the work you have done that relates to this particular field, the problems you solved, the methods you used to solve them, and the results achieved. What jobs you have done are often of less interest in your résumé than the skills and traits you brought to the tasks. In our hamburger-flipper example, rather than talking about working full-time at McDonald’s, you might say: 2000-2002 Hamburger Flipper at McDonald’s. Reorganized grill area, which resulted in 11 percent efficiency increase. Reduced food waste by 3 percent. Was willing to work any and all shifts necessary. Received Company Award for Kitchen Cleanliness and implemented cleanliness plans throughout store, resulting in a 6 percent increase in customers.
You get the point. It’s all about not just showing what you did but the value it contributed to the organization. Employers are smart enough to know that, if you are a problem solver in one organization, you will do the same for them as well. Never mention pay rates in a résumé or if particular work was as a volunteer. It doesn’t matter and will only raise irrelevant issues.
Don’t take your résumé to the information-gathering interview. After your discussion you might find a different way to word a particular skill. Besides, sending your résumé later gives you another chance to put your name in front of the employer. If he or she liked you, that résumé will not only be on file but on his or her mind. And he or she will probably like you if you asked good questions, were interested in the answers, had done your homework about the company and field, and got the heck out of there when you were finished.
What will happen, and I can guarantee it, is that, as you interview people, you will learn lots of things about the field others may not know and increase your value to employers in the process. Your disability won’t be a major factor because you are not asking for a job; you are just collecting information. Employers hate job interviews as much as you do. You have taken the pressure off them to make a decision. In a far shorter time than by using old methods, you will have a job offer.
Is it really this simple? I and many others have found it so. I would say, though, that you need to invest time at it. Statistics show that two-thirds of job hunters spend five hours or less a week in the job search. Sorry, folks, that just won’t get the job done. You should be putting in at least twenty hours a week. You will have a four-to-one advantage over two-thirds of the people out there, and it will keep the process exciting and fun.
If you stick with it, you’re sure to make valuable contacts, learn a great deal about industries you’re interested in, and (eventually) find a job you can be proud of in a field you enjoy.