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Keeping a Job

Find out what you need to know to keep a job. Learn how to be more professional, manage your time well, develop good organizational skills, and communicate effectively on the job.

Be Professional and Adaptive

Adapting to new situations is part of being professional.  Strong adaptive skills will help you keep a job once you've found it.  Take this adaptive skills "checkup" to see where you might need improvement.

Have you ever wondered why people lose their jobs? At first you might think that most people are fired because of "downsizing" or because they don't do their job very well. However, the reason most employers give for firing employees is that they behave unprofessionally in the workplace. Having strong adaptive skills (the ability to relate well with others and handle new situations) will help you improve the chances of keeping a job once you have found one. 

Research also shows that non-disabled people often connect the behavior of disabled people to their disability. Isn't it silly that a coworker may attribute your "less than courteous" reply to a request for help as being the result of your visual disability? Couldn't you just be having a bad day? However, this social phenomenon does happen. While you cannot be responsible for the misconceptions of others, you can be responsible for your own behavior.  Practicing professional and adaptive behavior, even when you may not feel like it, is the best way to get along well with coworkers and keep a job.

Give yourself an adaptive skills "checkup" by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you show a positive attitude to your boss, coworkers, and subordinates?
  • Do you pay attention to the political and economic factors that impact your organization or company?
  • Do you stay current with new technology?
  • Do you let others know that you are open to compromise?
  • Do you listen to others and try to consider their viewpoint? 
  • Do others want you to work with them on a team?
  • Do you show each day that you are dependable?
  • Do you appear open to change?
  • Do you show that you are willing to learn new skills?

If you answered "No" to any of the above questions, you may want to consider improving some of your adaptive skills. Your blind services counselor will be glad to help.  Give them a call.

Be Punctual

It is important to arrive at work on time. Many people with visual disabilities rely on public transportation to travel from home to work. However, trains and buses do not always stay on schedule. It is a good idea to let your supervisor know when you plan to arrive at work and provide them with a "backup time" should your transportation run late. If you know you are going to be late because of transportation issues, a phone call to your boss will reassure him or her of your professionalism.  It is also good to have a backup plan in case your regular transportation should fail.

You may be able to use the links below to obtain information on schedules and fares from a public transport provider in your area. If these links are not helpful to you, speak with a blind services counselor about transportation options in your area.

Be Organized and Manage Your Time Well

A person with a visual disability may need to be extra careful about how they plan their day so they can coordinate their transportation and other needs. But everyone could probably benefit from learning how to manage their time a little better in each area of their life, whether its home, school, or work. The following website is filled with suggestions for people who want to use their time and resources more effectively and efficiently. The mindtools website can help you learn All About Time Management.

Practicing Good Phone Skills

Learn how to place and answer telephone calls in a professional manner.  Leave the caller with a good impression of you and your employer. Often the first impression you will make on a potential employer or future customer is over the phone. So it's important to practice good telephone skills whether you're searching for a job or you're already a part of the workforce.

When Receiving a Call

Answer quickly

Answer the phone within three rings, if possible. Speak slowly, clearly, and confidently.

Answer politely

  • If the call is from outside your company (you should be able to tell by the ring tone), answer with "Good morning/Good afternoon, XYZ company, how may I help you?"
  • If the call is from inside your organization, give your name and department.
  • If receive business calls at home or on your cell phone, answer with a pleasant "Hello, this is (YOUR NAME)."

Be thorough when taking messages

One of the best ways to take a message is to use a preprinted message pad or send an email to the message recipient. Be sure to get the caller's name and telephone number. You may also want to inquire as to the nature of the call.  When making such an inquiry, use a polite phrase like this: "May I say what your call is regarding?" Collecting this kind of information will help the person receiving the message to return the call in a more professional manner.

Transfer calls carefully

Ask a caller who they would like to speak with and tell them you will try that person's line. Then put them on hold. Before you put them through, introduce the caller and explain the reason for the call. If there is no answer or the person is busy, return to the caller and offer to take a message or transfer them to voice mail.

Use effective voice mail and answering machine messages

Always return your messages the same day. Some people even set aside two times during the day to return all the incoming calls they have missed: one during the morning and one during the afternoon. Also, make sure your outgoing message is kept up to date. Letting callers know what you are doing on a particular day will give them a sense of why you are not there to take their call. However, you may not want to let callers know you are on vacation, as this might compromise your personal security. If you are searching for a job and have asked potential employers to call your home answering machine, make sure you have a professional sounding outgoing message. Here's a good example:

"Hello. You've reached the voicemail of Mary Jones at the Division of Blind Services. It's Friday, November 30th, and I'm out of the office presenting a workshop for employers of people with visual disabilities. Please leave a brief message with your name and phone number after the tone and I will return your call. If you need to speak to someone immediately, please press 0 to speak to the operator. Thank you."

When Placing a Call

Plan your call beforehand

  • Make sure you know the name of the person or department to which you want to speak.
  • Have paper or a computer ready to take notes.
  • If you think the call is going to be complex, you might want to prepare a brief outline of the topics you want to cover during the conversation.
  • Be sure to have all paper or electronic documents that you might need to reference at your fingertips.
  • If you anticipate that the call might run over 5 or 10 minutes, be sure to ask the person if a long call is convenient at this time. You may want to schedule an appointment for longer calls.

Being prepared will save you from embarrassment and the possibility of having to call the person back a second time.

Introducing yourself

Let the person know who you are, where you are from, and what the call is concerning.  Here is an example:

"My name is John Smith from company ABC. Mary Jones suggested I call you about subject X."

Some brief small talk is acceptable, such as "How are you today?" but remember that everyone's time is valuable

Closing the call

  • Keep the call brief.
  • Thank the person for their time.
  • If you keep a contact manager and the person is not listed in it, add them.
  • If the person is in your contact manager and you haven't spoken to them recently, you might want to take a moment to ask them if any of their contact information has changed.

Sometimes just say "Hello"

We're all busy. But if networking is important in your job, be sure to stay in touch with your contacts. However, you don't want to make them think, "What does he/she want now?" If you only call your contacts when you want something from them, you may find that they stop taking your calls all together.

Smile

Smiling will change the quality of your voice and your intonation.  A smile can be heard over the phone, so smile!