Well, first the good news: Tim has a line on a job. (Everyone’s positive thoughts are appreciated.)
The bad news: She called today saying she needed more references. Tim’s most recent employer — two years ago — is only giving start/end dates.
Tim’s trying to get him on the phone to ask if the guy could be a little more forthcoming about some of Tim’s better qualities. But the guy may just be trying to cover Tim’s behind: The eczema made him miss a lot of work, so maybe start/end dates are for the best.
But if that doesn’t work, we don’t have a lot of other options for references. Most of the jobs he worked were highly physical and, so, not sustainable. Beyond eczema flare-ups, old injuries (knees that have been broken twice, a shoulder fracture along the growth plate) would give him fits too. But it was all he could quality for, for the most part.
He also has sales experience, but inevitably, those jobs would turn into commission-only positions (no matter that they’d sworn up and down during the interview that he’d always have a base salary). The stress would make his eczema flare.
And so we arrive at yet another problem when it comes to disability and work: job history.
If you are at all in denial about your disability — and I find that most of us are, at some point — you’ll almost certainly cheat yourself out of a good job history. You’ll try to work through the symptoms and resultant problems. Then you’ll try to work around them.
Point is, by the time you finally come to acceptance, your work history and chances at a good reference are shot to hell. You have numerous absences, poor performance and, often, a history of having to quit immediately.
None of those look so great on a resume.
Of course, you can play around with job history. I use “Relevant Work History” which often gets you out of a strict timeline of employment. If you do have to recount the last five jobs or whatever, you may find it’s better to just leave some off entirely. Better for them to think you were just looking for a job unsuccessfully than that you were doing a job unsuccessfully.
But references… That’s a real sticking point that you just can’t get around.
If your jobs have ended because of your disability, you’re not going to have a lot of options for references. It’s just that simple.
You can fill one of the slots with a personal reference. But you need at least one, preferably two, work-related references. Most employers expect three references. If you have one personal and one work reference, there’s a good chance your resume gets ignored — especially in this environment.
So what do you do? No, seriously, I’m asking you guys.
Tim refuses to lie on his resume, which was my suggestion. I said he should call up a friend to be from a sales job he worked down here.
Devious? Yes. Morally wrong? Almost certainly. But it will probably make the difference between him getting the job and not. (Especially if he can’t get his old boss to speak up for him.)
Instead, he’s trying to get in touch with the ex-boss. If that doesn’t work, we’re hoping to pin down a colleague from that job.
Beyond that, there’s not much to be done. The sad fact is that disability wrecks employment opportunities on many levels. And, thanks to various budget shortfalls, Vocational Rehabilitation programs have huge waiting lists.
I guess we hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and otherwise keep on keepin’ on.