I feel like I am constantly explaining my belief that self-awareness offers an advantage for any job seeker. It is even more important for people with disabilities, and specifically, people who are blind or visually impaired. The concept seems pretty simple, but I can tell you that most teenagers and adults attempt to navigate life without truly understanding their own strengths and weaknesses.
Being self-aware offers an edge when trying to navigate the employment process and probably the education system. I would bet it has a big impact on the success of relationships, too, but I will try not to make too many vast generalizations. You know, this isn’t “Vast Generalization Day,” but that was always a fun day. (Off topic: “The Douger” and my brother Dan created “Vast Generalization Day” and “Outlandish Claim Day,” which were both fun days to celebrate.) So, skipping the vast generalizations—knowledge of your own strengths and weaknesses is a powerful tool during the employment process. How often do employers ask, “What are two of your strengths and weaknesses?”
It takes some self-awareness and preparation to answer that question. I advise teens and adults to ask multiple persons about their strengths and weaknesses. I suggest creating a very short e-mail message and sending it to a number of different people. It pays to solicit criticism from people with different points of view. I am willing to bet that you will find out about strengths and weaknesses that you never realized you had. People see us differently, as our relationships and interactions differ. All of this will impact their view of us.
Once you know about many of your strengths and weaknesses, it is time to develop an action plan. You will have to develop goals and objectives. Your goals could be related to employment, education, or even behaviors. The objectives could be based around enhancing strengths and improving weaknesses. Why is this important? Well, when asked about your strengths and weaknesses, it is important to include how you are working to improve the weaknesses. Stating weaknesses is fine, but you need to be able to express the strategies that you are using to address the weaknesses.
Your objectives should be well developed, including a date by which the specific objective will be complete. Your objectives are the steps you will take to complete your goal. Your goals and objectives can change and should be updated periodically. Putting all of this in writing makes you more accountable.
All of this information can be found in the Job Seeker’s Toolkit for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, available to all registered CareerConnect® users. Wait, what is the cost of CareerConnect? It is free. So, register for AFB CareerConnect today, and choose to take the free, self-paced, online course on navigating the employment process as a job seeker who is blind or visually impaired. The “Toolkit” guides you through lessons and related assignments. The assignments can be saved to your “My CareerConnect” profile. And, if you have a teacher or rehabilitation counselor who is also registered (again, for free) with CareerConnect, you can input a teacher or professional code into your profile. This code connects the user to the professional. When you submit assignments, you can check a box and send a copy to your teacher or counselor’s e-mail for their input. That’s right; we are trying to make this easy and usable.
In the spirit of this post, we’d love to learn what you think the strengths and weaknesses of the Job Seeker’s Toolkit are. Let us know what you think in the comments below!