A career planning and employment resource for people who are blind or partially sighted

The Job Search

Once you’ve matched yourself to jobs in your desired career field, you’re ready for the task of convincing an employer to hire you – this effort is called the job search. It entails finding job openings, completing applications for open jobs, tailoring your CV or résumé to the opening, and interviewing successfully for the job.

Finding job openings

Finding jobs is the same whether you are sighted or not. There are two areas where job openings are available – the open job market where employers post advertisements announcing openings and the hidden job market where jobs are announced through “word-of-mouth”.

The challenge for all job seekers is to uncover as many suitable job openings or possibilities in both areas. For job seekers who are blind or partially sighted, accessing printed information about job openings (ads posted in newspapers, on bulletin boards, or signs announcing openings) poses a challenge, although employers are increasingly posting open positions on the Internet that can be accessed with screen readers or screen magnification software.

However, many job postings for small businesses and with companies outside of larger urban areas still tend to be advertised in hard copy, making it challenging for people without good vision to access them.

Accessing the hidden job market is contingent upon developing a strong network of friends and acquaintances who can keep you apprised of job possibilities and speak to your ability to contribute when they have the chance with prospective employers. To learn more about finding job openings, read the section on Finding Jobs.

Completing applications

It’s important to learn how to present yourself on paper or virtually (in email, posting to job boards, etc.) so that an employer will contact you for an interview. There are challenges in this process for people who are blind or partially sighted because what you reveal on paper or online influences prospective employers and they may screen you out of consideration for employment before you’ve even met them.

You may not have the advantage that some of your sighted competitors have of being able to easily scan the materials that they and others have posted. Also, as someone with a disability, you must decide what and how much to reveal about yourself to people who may misunderstand what you’re capable of doing based solely on reading about you. Tips on how to construct a winning résumé or CV and how to handle the application process are included in the Résumés and Applications Tip Sheet.

The interview process

The most important element in the job seeking process is the opportunity to convince an employer that you’re worth considering for employment. This typically occurs through the interview process.

For job seekers who are blind or partially sighted this means understanding what the employer is looking for (in terms of how you’re dressed and how you carry yourself) without the advantage of being able to see how the employer and others on the worksite are dressed and how they behave on the job. Understand that people with good vision see things as they scan the environment, without always being aware of what they are seeing.

As a prospective candidate for a job comes into a company to drop off an application or other documentation, to make an appointment, or for an interview, the person sees how the space is decorated, what people are wearing and the kind of layout in which people work (for example, cubicles, separate office with solid walls, offices with windows, or open space with dividers). They also see other important items to those workers: family pictures, awards, certificates or degrees, ornamentation, etc.

If you’re connected online to LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, or any of other social networking site, you may be able to find much of this information by looking up people who work for the company or the company itself.

If you can’t easily capture this general information online, you’ll want to enlist the help of sighted friends, relatives, or professionals to observe and tell you what they see about the companies and the people working for them.

Preparing for a job interview can help you make the most of such an opportunity and you’ll want to do as much of this “sleuthing” as possible before your interviews. Also, please carefully review the section on Interview Tips.

For further information and useful external links, please refer to the Preparing for Work Resources section.