I kept on thinking, what the hell is wrong with me? I graduated almost near the top of my class! I volunteer! I (think) my resume and cover letter is O.K.! Then one day, I decided to contact a job coach for guidance. That man turned my life around. Here’s what I learned and what helped me find a “good” job (and yes, I’m still working there today):
As I was being coached, I constantly reminded myself of my prior accomplishments, skills and positive traits. I kept them in the front of my mind. My "failure to land a job" is NOT ME! It’s just a temporary setback. Everyone faces a setback at one time or another. That's a fact of life.
I contacted my local and state employment office, as well as my college career center for resources and leads. (Hot tip: Most job openings are not listed in the newspaper help-wanted section.)
Next, I forced myself to get out and about. I discovered that the most direct way to learn about job openings is to contact employers themselves. I targeted an area downtown, dressed the part, and stopped in at every appropriate business establishment, including employment agencies, to fill out an application.
I finally found a part-time, temporary job, which wasn’t something I wanted to do for very long, but at least it was a start. I reminded myself that ANY job that helps pay the bills deserves respect. But I didn’t stop looking for other opportunities.
During my spare time, instead of sitting around moping that I didn’t have a permanent job and wasn’t working full-time, I did some volunteer work.
(Hot tip: Helping people in need is very satisfying and rewarding in itself, but helping those who are in a situation that's worse than yours can help put your own situation in a better light.)
Also, I discovered that, as with dating, "weak" personal connections are the best way to find a new job because they can expand your network beyond options you were already aware of. I wasn’t afraid to ask the friend of a friend or another slightly removed acquaintance for recommendations during my job search.
I also made sure that – as often as possible – I surrounded myself with people who tended to be positive and upbeat, not negative and downcast.
During the job search process, I made an ongoing effort to “spread the word.” I told everyone I knew and meet that I was looking for a job. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of opportunities I discovered this way.
Thanks to my job coach, I found out that the best companies to work for tend to rely heavily on employee referrals. I made a list of all of my friends, relatives and acquaintances. I contacted them one by one and asked them if they knew of any openings for which they could recommend me.
Then I finally found my dream job! You want to know where? At home! That’s right, I created my own home-based business. I’ve always had an intense interest in woodworking (ever since 8th grade shop class). So I started my woodworking business with no capital, a few shop tools, and lots of nerve in a 10 foot by 20 foot space in my garage. The kicker is, I was NO "expert" woodworker at the time – far from it (I pretty much am now though). Really, the hardest part was understanding how to turn a hobby into a real business that made money (I sell my crafts on Ebay).
So, you may not be lucky enough to find a job coach like me. That’s why I wanted to share my story with you guys. I hope it inspires you to keep your chin up and find a job that you can enjoy the rest of your life. Not all people with Asperger’s have a miserable life – far from it!