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Guest Blog Writer – Patrick Young, Able USA

While disabilities have historically been a barrier to career advancement for differently-abled individuals, technology has made it easier to learn new skills and pursue more types of careers. From remote learning to home-based business opportunities and assistive technologies, technology has opened new doors for many with disabilities. For career guidance, Evolution Career Consulting is a great resource for those looking to advance professionally.

Remote learning opportunities

As the pandemic precautions remain in many places, most universities and other learning institutions have moved to remote learning on a large scale. This can be to the benefit of people with disabilities, as learning from home is often more accessible.

There are many degrees that can be obtained online now — even healthcare degrees have opened up to support online learning. Online courses in healthcare range from nursing to healthcare management and health service coordination.

Beyond healthcare, online degrees are also available in information technology management. This can be a great choice for those interested in computer science—it’s a growing field, and offers multiple career options that can be done remotely.

If you’re interested in communications, marketing is a degree that can easily be done online. Marketing graduates can work in a number of industries including non-profits, government offices, and private companies.

Home-based career options

Today, more jobs than ever can be done remotely. For people with disabilities, this opens up more work opportunities as employers broaden their hiring pool.

Another option for remote work is starting a home-based business. Business ideas can range widely, so determine your interests and abilities when deciding what kind of business you want to launch. If you’re sales-savvy, selling goods online is a great option. Or, if you’re a writer, starting a blog or turning to freelance work could be a great way to earn money.

Many small business owners who work from home require the bare minimum of technology: just a laptop, a mobile phone, and an internet connection will allow for most businesses to operate. If your disability requires you to obtain additional technology to do business, look into assistive technologies that can help.

Assistive technologies

The range of technology designed to assist people with disabilities has grown considerably in recent years. Tools such as screen readers, adapted keyboards, and speech recognition software can help differently-abled workers use technology with far more ease than ever before.

One great tool for the visually impaired is a screen reader. Screen readers can convert everything from text to buttons and images into speech or braille, allowing the blind to read emails, navigate webpages, and surf the internet. Along with screen readers, braille keyboards exist for visually impaired users to write messages, type emails, and conduct search queries.

Speech recognition software is another assistive technology that’s helpful for people with a range of disabilities. Speech recognition is often used by the blind but is also helpful for those with mobility or cognitive disabilities. It converts speech into text, and can also be used to navigate devices and perform various tasks.

For computer-users who have mobility challenges, joysticks can be helpful for controlling a mouse cursor. Similarly, tracking balls and head pointers can help those with mobility disabilities use technology with more ease.

While your disability may prevent you from some in-person activities, technology today allows for a broader range of opportunities in career advancement and further education. Look into remote learning options if you want to upskill or gain a new degree, and consider a home-based business that will allow some flexibility in your daily routine. And remember to seek out assistive technologies that will make it even easier for you to work and study using your computer.

 

6 Flexible Jobs and Positions Seniors Should Consider After Retirement

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Guest Blog Writer – Sharon Wagner, seniorfriendly.info

Photo Credit: Rawpixel

Wondering whether you should continue working after retirement? That is a huge question you will need to think long and hard about. If you decide to keep working during your golden years, however, finding a perfect new job doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most lucrative and popular jobs for seniors who are retired, in order to make deciding on your post-retirement career even easier.

Freelance Opportunities

Want some serious flexibility while you earn some extra cash in retirement? If so, you should consider freelancing. Online job and remote staffing boards like Upwork make it easy to find freelance openings that fit your interests and needs. Whether you want to work in sales, marketing, writing, customer service or any other, you can find the perfect retirement job via Upwork. Just fill out your profile and upload a resume or portfolio, and you will be all set to start wowing potential freelance clients and earning extra income during your golden years.

Gig-Based Economy Jobs

Another option for seniors who desire flexibility in their work schedule is to look for a gig job. Wondering about the gig economy? Well, if you have used an app to get a ride from the airport or to order food in recent years, you have actively participated in the gig economy without even knowing it. Gig workers can choose their own hours which can make these jobs perfect for seniors, and you can find lucrative gig jobs doing just about anything. So, whether you want to hang out with pooches on their daily walks or deliver groceries, there’s a gig job for you.

Part-Time Retail Positions

If you love shopping and talking to people, then you should consider a part-time retail position during retirement. Some of the best retailers for employees include popular stores like Trader Joe’s, Best Buy, and REI. In addition to getting a paycheck, seniors who work for these companies can also take advantage of other employee perks, such as generous discounts and even health benefits that can fill in the gaps left by Medicare plans. Plus, you will likely be on your feet while you are working, which can be beneficial for your wallet and waistline.

National Park Openings

For seniors who have a love of history and the outdoors, working for national parks can be a perfect post-retirement career fit. More adventurous seniors can opt for being a park ranger, but if you prefer something more laid back, you can also consider working in the welcome center or being a park guide. An added bonus about working within the national park system is that you can also choose from permanent or seasonal jobs, so you can retain as much freedom as needed for your retirement, without having to sacrifice an additional source of income.

Substitute Teaching Jobs

Did you know that being around younger generations can be beneficial for seniors and children alike? Connecting with kids can help keep your brain sharp and keep feelings of isolation at bay, but you can also help influence those kids to grow into healthier, happier adults. You can get and give these benefits by spending time with grandchildren or other younger family members, but you can also connect with younger generations by becoming a substitute teacher.

Consulting Opportunities

Retiring can bring a welcomed sense of freedom for many seniors. Still, if you are retiring from a career field that you love, it may be difficult to let that passion go when you leave. Thankfully, you don’t have to when you become a consultant in your area of expertise. You’ve likely worked with consultants in the past, but these self-employed pros provide essential business advice and assistance to entrepreneurs and organizations. You can provide services on your own time, which means you pursue your passions without giving up your retirement plans.

Working after retirement is a smart move for seniors who want or need extra income. If you also want to maintain some flexibility and freedom, you should think about choosing from one of the senior-friendly jobs listed above. That way, you can get the most out of your retirement.

 

Networking? Tips on Introductions

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Are you refining your networking skills? Trying to find a way into that company you’d love to work for? I’m here to tell you to avoid Human Resources. Seriously. This may seem hypocritical seeing that I’m an experienced HR professional, but it’s true, especially in this economy. While HR is normally heavily involved with the recruiting, interviewing and hiring process, it is not this department’s job to help you as a candidate. In fact, HR personnel can often be part of the “wall” standing between you and the hiring manager. They will screen your resume (or these days, an automated screening application will do this) to determine if it makes the cut to get into the hands of the hiring manager. You need to get straight to the hiring manager, or a reliable information source that can shed some light on what issues the company or that department has been dealing with. This will help you structure your resume and cover letter to show how you’ve handled similar situations.

So how do you get to the hiring manager?

Utilize social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites are all very useful. Many of these sites have specialized job search capabilities. Ideally you want to connect with people you know who work or have worked at your desired company. But what if you don’t think you know anyone like that? How about posting the question, “Who do you know at XYZ Company…?” on these sites and see what comes up? This can be “six degrees of separation” at it’s finest, and you would be surprised how this simple question can land great results! But remember, it’s not about what they can do for you,  it’s initially about what you can do for them. You need to establish a relationship first. Congratulate them on a recent promotion. Tell them you want to interview them to gather more information about their company or department. These suggestions yield more response than asking for an introduction from the get-go.

No one is insignificant. Of course, get the word out to friends and family that you are targeting a certain company or position. But, there are less thought about people you can tell, like your dentist, doctor, vet, cleaners, etc. It may seem silly, but if these are people you see or talk to regularly, you already have an established relationship with them. Why not mention you are looking? I have heard countless stories of people talking to unlikely contacts and getting their foot in the door that way. For example,  I had a client mention to her hair stylist that she was looking for a new marketing position. The hair stylist’s brother happened to be a recruiter for a well known company, who was looking to hire additional sales and marketing staff. A bit of luck, yes, but the connection never would have happened had my client not shared with her stylist that she was looking!

Use your college alumni association and career services center. No matter how long ago you graduated. I’ve had clients that utilized their alma mater’s career services years after graduating and it directly led to their next big opportunity. Staff in these departments often have good contacts at many notable organizations around the country, and are also the ones that set up career fairs throughout the year. Utilize this often forgotten resource and you will be ahead of the game.

It’s not how many contacts you have, it’s the quality of the contacts. It doesn’t matter if you have 500 contacts that know your name, having 10 quality contacts is far more productive. So make a point to stay in touch with your most promising leads. You don’t want to be intrusive or a stalker, but it’s a good idea to make contact at least once every 3-4 months. What do you say? Ask how business is going. If you know them personally, ask how their family is doing, kids, even pets. Invite them to dinner, or coffee, to catch up. Do you have sports in common? Connect on that. The idea is to keep the connection there so they think of you if an opportunity presents itself. You can always mention casually that you are still looking in case they hear of anything, just as a reminder.

Don’t let people tell you that networking is easy. It’s not, it takes a lot of work. But with these tips, you will find yourself better able to uncover that next big opportunity. Happy networking!

 

 

 

A Note to Our Politicians

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Is anyone else highly anticipating November 7th? The day we can finally say the elections are over. This won’t be a political post I promise (at least not in the sense of supporting any one person or party), I just have to vent about how done I am with the phone calls, the media, the debates, the negative campaigning, the visits to my door, all of it. Here are a few things I’ve learned from the 2012 elections. You might even be able to take something away from it in your job search.

1) Smear campaigns are unethical. Don’t do it. It does not make you look better than other candidates. It makes me question your integrity.

2)The amount of soliciting both over the phone and in person is maddening. It borders on harassment. This will not get me to “hire” you. I don’t get this much attention from anyone, including my family. Please stop. Thank goodness for caller ID. We barely answer our phone anymore.

3) There is nothing wrong with changing your mind on your views. However, changing them multiple times will make voters (even party-supporting voters) question where you really stand. Will you change your mind again if you get elected?

4) When you are asked a question, just answer it! No double talk. No pointing the finger at your opponent. No skirting the issue and changing the subject. I want the truth. I want to know I can trust who I’m voting for.

I try to be an informed citizen, and I take my right to vote very seriously. But as in past years, I find it hard to fully support any candidate, whether it’s for President, State Representative, State Senator, or Congressman/woman. My opinion year after year remains the same – I don’t trust our politicians. I don’t trust them to make the right decisions for us as individuals, or communities. Our country is in trouble with the path we are on, and we need to fix it. It’s not up to one person, it won’t be easy, and it’s going to take time. But we all have some hard questions to ask ourselves. Do we love our country enough to personally sacrifice for its continued financial, economical, and social well-being? Can we get past our desire to point fingers and all take some responsibility for cleaning up this mess? Yes – politicians, the rich, the  middle class and the poor, the young and the old, in every color, creed, and nationality, I’m talking to you.

 

Cover Letters: What is Your “Carrot”?

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I love how a personal story can really bring a cover letter to life. In working with clients on cover letters, I’m always looking for that teaser to grab the reader’s attention. Similar to an interesting fact, news story or piece of information that sparks a lively conversation with colleagues or friends (tasteful and appropriate, of course), I want to know something about you or your experiences that will make me want to learn more. Recently I wrote a cover letter for a client looking to take a new step in her career. After learning more about her background, both personally and professionally, the “aha moment” struck me as she talked about her visit to the Olympic games, two different times. Not only was this timely with the Summer Olympics in London, it was a unique experience that set her apart from thousands of other candidates, and no doubt an interesting fact that would pique a reader’s interest. I was excited to use this in her cover letter, and it allowed me to further highlight her passion and commitment for continuous improvement. She loved the results and happily reported that it helped get her foot in the door.

What does this mean for you? Many job seekers forego the cover letter thinking it won’t help them. I disagree. In my experience, I do think traditional cover letters are often ignored. But, find that conversation piece in your work experience or personal life that you can relate to your career or skills, and a cover letter can easily be like a good book that grabs the reader’s attention in the first few words or sentence. They don’t want to put it down! My cover letter motto: unique, conversational, and short. Dangle the carrot for the company recruiter, VP, or department manager so they just have to learn more about you. And if your resume is equally as compelling, you will be one step closer to your next career opportunity.

 

Six Seconds or Less

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Pop quiz question: how long do you think a recruiter spends on a typical resume? A) 1 minute, B) 2 minutes, C) 30 seconds, D) 6 seconds. I didn’t make this very hard, given my post title. Yes, the answer is D! According to new research from theladders.com, recruiters spend an average of only 6.25 seconds on a resume before deciding whether that candidate may be a good fit for the job. Now more than ever, candidates have to work hard to wow the recruiters, and do it in well under 10 seconds! Here are some additional statistics that I found interesting – 80% of that 6.25 seconds is spent on basic resume content, like name, job titles and employer names, start/end dates of employment, and education. The other 20% goes toward scanning for keywords matching the job description.

What does this mean for you, the job seeker? First and foremost – no typos or grammatical errors. This may seem obvious, but for those of you who have spent countless hours writing and refining your resume, it’s easier than you think to miss something. Make sure to get a second, and even a third, pair of eyes to review your resume before it goes to anyone. Second, a resume should have concise and easy to read content from start to finish. More specifically, don’t use paragraph explanations of your experience, keep bullet points short (use sub-bullets if you must, for must-have details), and remember that your resume doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t!) include every last detail of your past employment. Lastly, when applying for a specific job opening, be sure to review the ad or job description for keywords so you can include them in your resume. This does take more work, but your goal is to perk up that recruiter on the first pass of your resume. Matching multiple keywords will help you get to the top of the list. You have just over six seconds to make an impression, so make those six seconds count!

 

Going Beyond Job Search 101

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You have probably read several articles about the basics of a successful job search. Professional resume, check. Complete LinkedIn profile, check. Telling everyone you know that you are looking for a new job, check. So now what? Here are a few essential tips to take you beyond the basics.

Sell yourself. Your resume needs to be more than a job description of your experiences. What were your specific accomplishments? You might not be in sales, but you definitely need to establish a personal brand and sell yourself to land that next big opportunity. Also, do you have your “elevator pitch” nailed down? Can you confidently sell your personal brand over the phone or in person to any prospective decision maker?

Don’t skimp on time dedicated to your job search. With today’s economy and technology, browsing the job sites a few times a week for new job listings and sending out resumes just won’t cut it. This is a full time job. Set up a weekly schedule for your job search, allowing enough time to check in with contacts, research target companies, customize resumes for specific job openings, and evaluate your overall progress. This is where an experienced career consultant can help.

Join professional groups related to your career field or industry. Start by checking out what groups are on LinkedIn and choose at least 3-5 targeted toward your career goals. Then, get involved – participate in discussion forums, get to know other members, and ask for connections. Studies show that 80% of jobs are not advertised and over 50% are filled through networking. Having a solid network of contacts within your industry or field will improve your reach and significantly increase your chances of achieving the next level in your career.

It’s no surprise that finding a new job takes a lot of time and patience. But as with any step in your career, hard work nearly always pays off. Stay motivated, keep a positive attitude, go beyond the basics, and the right opportunity will come knocking. Bottom line – don’t give up. Happy hunting!

 

Valentine’s Day Promotion

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40% off resumes and 50% off all other services until 3/14.

 

Free Resume Critiques

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Happy New Year! Thinking about a job change? We offer complimentary resume critiques! Feel free to send us your resume, and we’ll review it for you.