Get Noticed at Virtual Job Fairs

Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

In this ever-changing world of technology, one of the best hiring opportunities for jobseekers with disabilities and other challenges is a “virtual” job fair.

The advantage of virtual job fairs and chat-based interviews is profound. First of all, you can attend with an Internet connection and you don’t have to worry about wardrobe, transportation or even leaving your home.

Secondly, recruiters cannot consciously or subconsciously discriminate against you if you have a physical or visible disability because they can’t see you; they can only focus on your abilities, what you type and your skill set.

Thirdly, employers who participate in virtual job fairs often may have work-at-home jobs, which can make returning to work that much easier for many jobseekers with disabilities.

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Mentor Guides Veteran with Disability to Small Business Success

Bridget Weston Pollack, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, SCORE Association

By Guest Blogger Bridget Weston Pollack, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, SCORE Association.

Fulfilling the dream of owning a business can be a difficult journey, but some entrepreneurs face more challenges than others. With perseverance and a supportive SCORE mentor, military veteran Al Kroell and his wife Christy found their path to success.

While serving in the Navy, Al Kroell suffered an accident leaving him with a severe disability. He lost the use of his hands and the military deemed him unemployable – his 20 year career was suddenly over. A few years later, his wife Christy also became disabled after a car accident. The couple struggled with finances and needed a plan desperately.

Through the hardships, Al found comfort in his hobby of scroll saw woodworking. He especially enjoyed making plaques for military friends. Then it hit him – why not turn his hobby into a business?

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Accommodation Information by Limitation

Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

By Guest Blogger Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant, Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

It’s been several years now since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act went into effect and many employers finally are heeding the Act’s main message: stop spending so much time determining whether an employee meets the definition of disability and instead focus on providing effective workplace accommodations. In fact, some employers have taken this message a step further and are leaving the disability determination out of the equation altogether when possible and just focusing on the limitation that is causing the problem. For employers who want to do the same, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) recently launched a new section on its website called “Accommodation Information by Limitation A-Z.”

And it’s not just for employers, anyone can use it! How does it work? The new section allows JAN website users to find accommodation ideas by the type of limitation an employee is experiencing, regardless of the underlying disability.

Here are a few examples to illustrate:

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Clarifying Your Ideal Work Environment

A photo of Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder of Employment Options, Inc.

By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder of Employment Options Inc. 

When you’re trying to figure out what to do next in your personal job hunt, sometimes not just one job title comes to mind. You may begin to feel stuck or unsure which direction to go. Envisioning your ideal work environment can help clarify an appropriate direction by taking into account your workplace preferences and needs. Often, if you figure out logistics for your personal circumstances first, many other aspects of your job search then fall into place.

Do You Want to Work “Inside” or “Outside” or a Combination of Both?

Many job hunters feel like they need to choose between a desk job or an outside “only” job. However, you can look for desk jobs with travel opportunities or frequent meetings outside the office. Insurance adjusters, estimators, teachers, meter readers and car sales would be examples of a combination of both. What type of environment works best for you and your personality and disability?

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Empowering Individuals with Disabilities and Employers through the Workforce Recruitment Program

Former WRP participant Robert Zambrana (left) poses with Robert D. Cabana, former NASA astronaut and director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

By Guest Blogger Randy Cooper, Department of Defense Disability Program Director, Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity

Answering the call to serve

“Talent has no barriers” is Robert Zambrana’s favorite mantra. Mr. Zambrana’s determination and drive to succeed from an early age perhaps foretold a young man’s journey to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) where he’d find ample opportunity to show the workforce his many talents and launch a career at the leading agency for aeronautics and aerospace.

At age two, Mr. Zambrana was diagnosed with hearing loss. Zambrana faced discrimination and barriers in school and elsewhere for his disability which he channeled into confidence, a competitive spirit and compassion for others in the face of many challenges. He tells the story of a formative moment in high school when a school counselor suggested that, as a hearing impaired student, Zambrana would never pass the standardized exams he needed to graduate. Zambrana said simply, “Thank you for motivating me to pass this test.” And he did. In short, obstacles to Zambrana are the fuel that drives him to succeed.

After learning American Sign Language and graduating from Gallaudet University, Mr. Zambrana answered the call to public service. During a job fair, he connected with a representative from the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), which links highly motivated college students and graduates with disabilities to public and private sector employers nationwide. The WRP is geared toward individuals with disabilities who are eager to prove themselves in the workplace. For someone like Zambrana, who was “ready to show the world what I could do,” the program was a perfect fit. It was through his WRP placement at the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) where he became a leader among his colleagues and a mentor to others with disabilities. At DEOMI, he remains well-respected for his strong performance, work ethic and love for learning.

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