Working Wounded: Highlight Your Abilities

Q U E S T I O N: I got a lot of job interviews back when the economy was humming along. But recently I've found that no one wants to talk to a disabled worker. Any suggestions?

— Differently Abled, Not Disabled

A N S W E R: Kesaraporn Duangsawan was resplendent in winning the coveted first runner-up position at a recent Thai beauty contest. And Kesaraporn was also richer by 6,000 baht.

There was only one small problem, the beauty contest was for women and Keasaraporn is a man. Oops.

No matter how beautiful, Mr. Duangsawan had a limitation when it came to being in a beauty pageant for women. I'll leave the specifics to your imagination.

It's no different at work, we all have certain limitations that impact what we can, and can't, do. The tips below should help you in your journey. For more check out, Job Hunting for the So-Called Handicapped by career guru Richard Nelson Bolles (10 Speed, 2001).

Kesaraporn gave back the money, but he did ask to keep the Miss Media sash as a memento. Hopefully by following these tips you'll be able to hold on to a lot more — a job.

Online Ballot and Contest

Here are the results from a recent online ballot: Small talk is …

Small talk is for small timers — 9 percent. Big time — 34.8 percent. Pretty important — 56 percent.

Winning Strategy

Our winning strategy for dealing with small talk at work comes from Janet B. in Boulder, Colo. "My strategy for starting and maintaining conversations is the same as the one we all once learned for crossing the street: Stop. Look. Listen. Stop thinking about 'the goal.' You need to shift your focus entirely to the person with whom you're speaking. Look the person in the eye. Small talk is personal, and the other person needs to 'know' you're focusing on him or her. Listen — really listen — to what the other person is saying. Initiating a conversation isn't the hard part; maintaining it is. Do you notice that I've said nothing about talking about yourself? Leave that for after you've crossed the street. That is part of your close, not your small talk."

List of the Week

Bob Rosner is the author of the business best seller, The Boss's Survival Guide (McGraw Hill, 2001), a speaker, and founder of the award-winning & E-mail him at publishes a new Working Wounded column every Friday.