COVID-19 has changed our lives in many ways. It has changed the way we socialise, the way we engage with each other, and has added a level of overall uncertainty. This is especially true for those who are jobseeking. Previous industries that were seen as reliable are now unstable.
Labour market trends are now difficult to predict, and traditional job seeking methods may not be as successful. Australia has gone through periods of economic recession and depression before and, eventually, will recover.
But what to do now? Finding jobs in economic downturns can be difficult, but not impossible. So what can people who are blind or have low vision do when job seeking during these times?
Below are some tips:
Develop foundational skills
There are skills every employer wants, and jobseekers should have to be competitive. Those skills include technology skills, communication skills, time management skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to work in a team.
For people who are blind or have low vision, there are three areas that should be developed and refined in order to be competitive. These include orientation and mobility, adaptive technology, and occupational therapy. If you feel you need development in any of these areas, contact Vision Australia to see how we can assist.
During this time, businesses are changing the way they operate, and so are workers. Both have had to find new ways of working, outside of the traditional office-based work. There are now more people working from home, and more people are using remote working tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Think about how this can relate to job seeking - what can you do differently than you did before?
If you are considering remote work, you made need training on how to use new tools, or update your writing and email communication skills. Less face to face communication will mean being able to be clear and concise in writing. This also relates to having adaptive technology skills. If you need to develop or update your skills, make sure to work with an adaptive technology specialist.
Consider contract or casual jobs
As businesses are less sure about their futures, they may be reluctant to hire permanent roles. There have also been jobs created in response to COVID-19 that may become more or less available, depending on the path of the pandemic. These jobs can be a great opportunity to gain experience, develop new skills, and gain references.
Identify and articulate your transferrable skills
Transferrable skills are skills that can be useful to employers across various jobs and industries. Identifying your strengths can pinpoint potential suitable roles outside of those in which you have previous experience. This can broaden a jobseekers scope of employment.
In addition to being able to identify strong skills, it is also important to be able to give examples of not only what you can do, but how you can do it. This is particularly important for blind and low vision jobseekers. Many employers may not have experience with adaptive technology, and may make the assumption that if they do not know how someone can do something visually (for example, reading an email), it cannot be done.
For many people, use of JAWS or a Braillenote may seem as just something that they do every day. For employers who do not have knowledge of adaptive technology, it can seem like magic. Explaining how adaptive technology works shows problem solving skills and adaptability.