Eyes out for work

Graeme Turner
No-one likes to lose their job. I have a vision impairment and am facing the challenge of looking for work because my job finished up. It's tricky to apply for jobs by computer. I then need to get to the right place for the job interview. At one interview, all applicants were interviewed together. In an interview it's bad enough working with people you haven't met. When you can't see them either it's doubly hard. At another interview I had trouble even finding the front desk. Still I keep trying. I might not have a job yet, but I won't give up.
Posted by: 
Graeme Turner on 13/09/2012
A man is sitting at a table being interviewed by a woman. In the background are other one-on-one interviews.

"I wasn't going to be short-changed."

When you have to look for a job, it's hard enough when you have your arms, legs, eyes and ears working fine. But how much harder is it when you have a disability? I was about to find out and learn a few lessons along the way.


As a person with a vision impairment, I'd nutted out the address for my latest face-to-face job interview and entered the foyer full of anticipation. It was empty.

You're in the wrong place. Our other office is across the road, offered a female staff member.

I was off to a magnificent start with this, my latest interview in the search for new employment.

It's not about me

Being out of a job began with what human resources departments love to call a retrenchment. It's not about me. It's simply the position. Fine, we move on. I embraced the chance to make a fresh start.

I was directed to a few sessions with an external consultant whose knowledge of blindness was equivalent to a Bedouin's familiarity with polar bears. He promptly wished to overhaul my resume. It even came down to the 18 point heading font being the right shade of teal.

Job goal

My goal was clear. I'd apply for customer service roles short term with the long-term view to find something better. After all don't they want workers with initiative?

The first hurdle was to apply online using text-to-speech software. I dutifully filled in the forms and proceeded to the upload resume button. It didn't work.

Eventually I managed to fire off a few applications and was rewarded with some brief automated acknowledgements.

At last, someone rang and offered an interview over the phone. As I was a seasoned customer service operator, such an exchange was a walk by the seaside. I was invited to an interview the following morning.

I need to tell you that I have a vision impairment. I hoped I sounded confident.

The appointment was rescheduled because there was a catch. It was a group interview.

The right office

After crossing the road, I waited with a gaggle of candidates who mostly seemed the backpacking variety.

We were grouped around tables, with our names propped before us on bent paper.

We want you to work together to devise a campaign to market a pet shop, breezed a chirpy facilitator. Great, they were going to assess my group interaction skills with a bunch of people I couldn't see, couldn't name and whose body language was an utter mystery. Notwithstanding this, I thought my idea of calling the shop Furry tails was a good start.

Several times applicants were invited to respond in writing. But I was told not to worry about that. They'd ask me any relevant questions at the finish.

So after an extensive one-on-one interview at the end of the morning, what did they forget? But I wasn't going to be short-changed and reminded them of the outstanding questions.

I figured I'd performed pretty well, at least until I read the email that arrived.

I was not only unsuccessful, but told I should look for another line of work.

Next interview

In the next face-to-face interview I walked into a foyer whose open-plan space pounded me with an uproar of voices topped by a radio on full volume. I couldn't even locate the enquiries desk.

At least this time, there was only one candidate and one interviewer.

Judging from her murmurs of approval, I figured I'd said all the right things about listening to clients and focusing on solutions. I was told I would hear back in two weeks.

I waited. Two weeks passed. And three weeks. This time I didn't even receive an email or a text.

And on it goes

A happy ending would be great. Aren't such accounts of looking for work supposed to ignite the torch of hope in others?

In a few days I'll attend another interview. At least this time I have a clear address and there's only one office to be found.

Have you had any interesting encounters when looking for work?

Readers comments (2)

So that is what I have been doing wrong, my resume heading is the wrong shade of teal.

Hope you find a great job soon.

Hi again Grahame

I really understood your frustrations and tricky position when going for interviews. But like you said, never give up.

Back in the 1990s when I was with a couple of employment agencies, specialising in working with people who had disabiltiies, mind you.

I was told that I did not have the 'look' for an at the front desk admin type role, despite my obvious skills in that area. I type like lightening so they would have loved me.

The actual employment agency's Encouragement advice was to work from home, because "I was unemployable, and nobody would employ someone with a severe skin condition like mine". How charming was that? they also informed me to keep away from supermarkets/vegetable stalls, because I would put the other customers off.

Well that has an impressionable impact on a young person, so I went into a deep depression about 8 years, and then I thought, bugger them, I am going to return to study, and prove them all wrong.

My notetaking Job has just finished for the year, returning in March, and I just finished a research project/training session for an organisation, so I am looking also.

i hope the attitudes will be different from back in the 1990s.


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