By Helen Cooke - Great With Disability Founder and Director.
The new year is when many people think about what they what to achieve in the next 12 months. For those of you who have decided that this is the year when you are going to enter employment, whether for work experience, an internship or a full time position, here are my top tips for success.
1. Make a plan
Work out what it is you want to achieve and how you are going to get there. Identify all the steps that you will need to take, and the people and resources you will need to help you achieve it.
2. Follow your dreams
If you want to work for Apple, Virgin Atlantic, Nike or become a lawyer or banker, or train as a teacher – do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. If you really want to do something, find a way to make it happen.
3. Complete your ‘openness statement’
For most of us our disability isn’t going to go away. We therefore need to work out how we are going to inform potential employers about our situation and ask for the support we need to demonstrate our ability. Developing an ‘openness statement’, that you are happy with sharing, makes this process so much easier.
4. Identify your strengths
If you are going to ‘sell’ yourself to an employer, you need to know what you are selling. Identify your strengths and list 4 or 5 key skills / abilities are and how you can demonstrate them both in your CV and during an interview.
5. Develop your interests
A good set of A’ levels or a 1st class degree is not enough. Employers are looking for rounded individuals who have got involved in school / university life, taken on positions of leadership, have been inquisitive, have made a difference and / or are passionate about something. Turn off the TV and get involved.
6. Learn from your mistakes
It’s human nature to make mistakes. Rather than focus on them, learn from them and move on.
7. Don’t give up
Rejection is part of the job-hunting process. Everyone will face rejection - and it has nothing to do with having a disability. Allow yourself a couple of hours to feel disappointed and then pick yourself up and keep on going.
8. Have fun
Job hunting isn’t always easy but try to enjoy it – make the most of the situations you find yourself in, enjoy meeting new people and work out how you can turn not-so-good experiences into a positive one. Let’s face it – whilst ‘being a fun person’ rarely appears on a job description, no one wants to recruit someone who isn’t great to be around!