Am I even employable?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by viola_x_wittrockiana, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Oct 26, 2016

    I'm in a situation with a bunch of extenuating circumstances and otherwise bizarre experiences. I'm not entirely sure how to evaluate the situation. I'm trying to figure out why I haven't been able to get a job. I've been trying for three years and I don't know if it's the market or me.

    To begin with, here's the basics: I hold a K-12 music endorsement, my resume is fairly impressive, and I graduated with honors. I also have multiple disabilities. I know that my resume/cover letter isn't the problem; I have no problem getting interviews. I know I'm not saying anything wrong during interviews either. It's either the market, or it's me. If it is me, it's one of two different things. I'm partially blind in addition to having a slew of musculoskeletal problems. I'm handicapable though, and the only thing I flat-out can't do is drive. I dress so that my musculoskeletal issues don't show and I don't need any physical aids or anything that would clearly show that I have disabilities. That said, my vision does affect my ability to make proper eye contact with people, which is noticeable during interviews. Studies have shown that people with my vision issue are perceived as less intelligent and less trustworthy. Even if they're not actively aware of it, I've gotten the vibe that trying to maintain eye contact with me makes the people interviewing me uncomfortable. I'm concerned that that's been affecting the process. I had one principal who fixated on my eyes to the point where I know that's why I never heard back, but I can't prove anything, so . . .

    The other possibility is that it's me in a different way. I'm what I call ultra-petite and baby-faced. I'm the height of the average 13-year-old and the weight of the average 12-year-old. I have a woman's body, but to a child's scale. Strangers tend to guess that I'm between 12-15. (I polled pizza guys and retail workers.) Even though I'm dressed in a suit, the office ladies tend to do a double-take when I tell them I'm there for an interview. My first year of applying, I only applied to middle school and high school jobs because that's my target age group. After that, I applied for anything because I figured principals may not want a teacher who can blend in with the students. This past year, I interviewed for only elementary positions, and that didn't end with a job either.

    I've been able to stay in the ed. field in the meantime, first in ELL/ESL evaluations and now as a one-on-one aide and academic coach for a college student with special needs. My student will graduate in May and I will be left without a job. I'm considering picking up a core-subject endorsement to widen the field. I'm pretty close to two, so I could finish one in the next semester. I'm a bit of a polymath, so I don't mind teaching something other than music. I don't want to invest in extra courses if they won't help me get a job though.
    Should I pick up the extra endorsement or do I need a new career field?
     
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  3. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Oct 26, 2016

    I hate to say it, but I will because we all know that it's mostly true: a lot of admin can be quite shallow and appearance -focused, whether consciously or not.:roll: I look at all the schools I've worked in so far and notice some attributes and characteristics of the teachers. I'll leave it at that.
    My friend's autistic so naturally she has trouble with connecting with people (eye contact being a HUGE thing) which has both hindered her in some respects and hasn't in others. She's subbing now, leaving an impression and building those relationships. Could you do the same? That way they can see you in action and know how you are in the classroom? If you rock it out, they can't deny that!
    It's unfortunate, but you know the reality, is it may not be a simple answer. There's no magic bullet; if you did have the answer of what to do, you would have done it already.
    Just keeping pounding the pavement, knocking on those doors and networking. You could try for more endorsements, but those may not be a guarantee either.
     
  4. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 27, 2016

    I encountered a lot of the same issues when I was looking for jobs (I am also multiply disabled, you can probably find me describing it in one of the many topics I have made). I eventually had to stop applying for jobs due to a medical issue that cropped up in the last 1 1/2 years, but it seemed like I was getting somewhere.

    A lot of the people who interviewed me seemed to pick up on my disabilities without me mentioning them. One interviewer who did and really seemed to like me wasn't able to hire me - it was a private school, the kid they were expecting wasn't approved for placement there by their home district, so they didn't need an aide.
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Oct 27, 2016

    I agree with the above posters. It isn't legal to disqualify someone for employment if their disability does not affect their work, but it happens. I know someone with your stature who worked in elementary and, later, preschool, and that seemed to work for her. On a very practical side, if you wear glasses that don't have non-glare coating, or are the ones that change shading, you might divert from the focus issue. Should you have to? No, but you sound as though you are willing to go the extra step to get a job. Have you considered teaching students with disabilities? There could be more open-minded employers in that area.
     
  6. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Oct 27, 2016

    I've looked into some back doors into the kind of job I want, but I haven't been able use them. I can't sub because my area uses an automated system that has you tiered from a three-county area. That's a huge area and I can't expect someone to drive me 1.5 hours away, then either wait or come get me. Theoretically I could just only take closer jobs, but the more jobs you turn down, the lower you sink on the list for your tier, and I'd be starting at the bottom tier anyway. I'd end up subbing for my district, a district that wanted to hire me, but didn't have the budget, and one that just hired a new music teacher this year. She got the job over me because she went to the local university and her father is a principal. I applied to sub at the local university's lab school, but they don't want me because I have a B.M.e and not a B.A.

    So many of the music jobs in my state have gone to part-time or split locations, and I can't take most of them. At least one is even shared between two different districts. It wasn't like this when I started my degree. Beyond opening up jobs in a different endorsement area, my reasoning behind an extra endorsement is to perhaps be able to make a part-time music position a full-time job by adding a few classes of a core subject. That could make me a more appealing candidate.

    To address Upsadaisy's questions, I'm not certified for preschool and I don't have the qualifications schools in my state want for special needs kids. In my state, you need so many hours of early childhood coursework to legally work in a preschool or daycare as a teacher, and I fall way short of that. I'm great with kids on the autism spectrum, but the special needs schools want licensed music therapists, not teachers. It would be cost-prohibitive for me to get licensed for either group. I got my current job by going around the licensure system entirely. I happened to find out about a family looking for an aide on their own because the university couldn't/wouldn't provide the services their child needs. I got the job because the kid talked to me within 10 minutes of meeting me, not so much because of my professional licensure. So, I became the music major tutoring chem., computer, and finance. Yay, polymaths! Oh, and I don't have the anti-glare coating on my lenses. If I don't face someone square on, it's considerably less noticeable, which works well for social situations, but comes off as strange in formal ones. I found many of the tricks to passing as normal from doing theatre, but they don't always translate well to reality.
     
  7. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 28, 2016

    During interviews, I would usually point my eyes in their direction - I have a lazy left eye, so it sometimes goes off and does its own thing. In a lot of interviews, I was usually not seated directly in front of the interviewer. It was typically at an angle, which helped me a bit.
     
  8. IloveSF

    IloveSF Rookie

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    Nov 9, 2016

    I can't comment on the disability thing because my only experience is that people are often deeply shallow and rude. I'm sorry something that you can overcome but cannot control might be affecting your ability to get a job. I can, however, comment on the market. Where I am (Iowa), the market is over-saturated and ridiculous. I hate this state. I've also been looking for a position for three years with no success other than one long-term assignment. If you're in an area similar, that will definitely be a factor, so don't feel like it's all on you.

    I would like to think that with the number of students educators might have that have autism or other mental disorders that make eye contact difficult if not impossible, that they wouldn't be so anal about steady eye contact. Heck, as someone who teaches speech, I would tell students to look at the top of people's heads if direct contact makes them uncomfortable. Don't discount what they say, but I guess to some it does.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 10, 2016

    While illegal to disqualify someone on disabilities alone, there is always the question of 'fit'. If visual issues are causing a perception of social awkwardness or affecting the ability to communicate confidently, one might be perceived as 'not a fit' when compared to other candidates who are equally qualified and who are better able to 'connect' with the interviewers.

    OP, Your situation is made even more difficult because of the scarcity of music jobs compared to other content areas. Perhaps adding another endorsement will make you more competitive...maybe an ELL or special Ed endorsement since you have some experience in those areas?
     
  10. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Nov 12, 2016

    Thankfully, I'm not awkward in the least. I did years of performance and public-speaking activities that took care of any nerves or self-conciousness. What I'm concerned about is that aspects of my appearance that are immutable are holding more weight than my resume, portfolio, and personality. I've had two experiences that suggest that's the problem. In one, I interviewed for a long-term sub job that had a laundry list of required qualifications. The principal told me I was the only interview. It seemed suspicious when the job was reposted the next day and I never heard anything after she saw me. In the other, I interviewed, totally hit it off with the principal, and then never heard back. She went as far as to give me a tour of "my" classroom, told me how much they need bi-lingual staff, and printed off information on their salary & benefits package. I found out months later that the job went to a girl who was a year behind me in college. I know her quite well, as we were in the same studio, and I know that she doesn't know any Spanish. Our gpa's were probably similar, but I was in the honors program and a founder's scholar and she wasn't. I also student-taught in a school very similar to the school interviewing us, and she didn't. Other than that, we're pretty much the same on paper. BUT, she's physically much larger than I am and I saw in a photo she posted online that 95% of the staff are large, white, women. She's a better physical fit.

    On the other hand, you're right that the music field is different and smaller than other areas. I'd consider an ELL or sp.ed. endorsement if I had the funds and time. I'm functionally bi-lingual because I've been learning/speaking Spanish since I was a toddler, but I don't have any college credits in foreign languages. I've had one sp.ed. course. I'm only comfortable in that realm of ed. from personal experience and family experience. I'm two or three courses away from a social studies endorsement and probably four away from an ELA endorsement. I've been able to save enough to cover a few classes, but not enough to go back for a semester full time.

    I figured this wouldn't have happened because my home district, generally beyond awful regarding disability issues, hired and tenured teachers with disabilities. I had a math teacher with a glass eye and a science teacher who needed crutches to walk after contracting Lyme disease in her teens. Maybe that was naive of me, but if it was, it was naive of every ed. professional around me too.
     
  11. Ananya

    Ananya Guest

    Nov 22, 2016

    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your story with.It happens most of the people which you are facing right now but we can not change ourselves for others.
    If I talk about me that people still think that I am school girl but I am doing job right now & I feel proud for that .My height is 5'2 & i am slim .People advise me to eat a lot so I will get fat but who want to get fat. I am happy with that. People have always a problem if you are fat than they want you to get slim but if you are slim than people wan you to get fat.
    When your talent speaks , appearance fed up.Walk like that you are on ramp.Dress like that you are a designer.
    A proper dressing sense , walking nature, your way of speaking & most important your talent.This things are essential for getting a job.
    IF any company is hiring you on the basis of appearance that you are not meant for that, they don't deserve you.
    Have you heard about UGC NET Exam? This exam is conducted for achieving the position of lecturers/professors/associates/research fellows at colleges.You can go for that ,you will found ample of opportunity in this . Here people will judge you on your talent basis. You will meet a actual professional people.
    Recently UGC NET Result is declared & one of my friend cleared and she is happy and me too.
    I suggest you to trust on yourself first than other will trust on you.
    Problem is yours than find the solution by yourself.
    All the best..!!!
     
  12. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    Nov 22, 2016

    Just make sure you come across as sociable, reliable, knowledgeable, and approachable. I don't like talking about this much, but I have special needs that affect my communication skills. I knew this going in to teacher school and really worked on it (which is why I basically have my dream job now, in a very diverse, borderline title I school). I would focus on your weak points and remind people that there are some very good qualities that you bring to the table. For example, a lot of what I inherently do without being asked works very well with special needs kids. I am able to connect with them better than a lot of teachers because the way I prefer to act makes them very comfortable. I always stress these skills and make sure the hiring committee knows I am a responsible, presentable adult. Dress well, come prepared, and don't sound too rehearsed.
     
  13. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Nov 25, 2016

    I can't do a SPED or math endorsement. I'm too far away from the credits I need for either. I can't afford to go back to school full time. I have a boatload of experience in SPED, but only one college course. I took honors abstract math and that was it, which would leave me seven? classes short. My workable choices are mid-level ELA or social studies. I know the markets for both of those aren't great, but it'd be an improvement in size over the music market. Objectively, I'm an extremely good candidate on paper, so I'm not concerned about the increased competition. I'm just at a point where I can't throw money I barely have at a new endorsement if it's my size or disability status keeping me out. I need to be settled in something, ed. or elsewhere, in five years, by which point I will need three joint replacements and the necessary insurance and time off to get them.
     
  14. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Nov 25, 2016

    I don't know how I'd be able to do it that cheaply. I'd still need six 3-credit math classes and two mid-level ed classes. The ed classes have to be taken from a state-approved program, and the cheapest one is $1,700 without books. While I probably could teach math, I shouldn't. I have a deep conceptual understanding, but my fundamentals are not great thanks to Everyday Math. I've tutored math successfully, but I don't know that I would subject a roomful of innocent children to me teaching math. That might be considered cruel and unusual punishment lol.
     

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