Beginning the search for a job can be scary, especially if you are person with special needs. Navigating through all the employment options of different states can also be confusing. Thanks to advocacy programs, advanced technology, and specialized staffing agencies, individuals with special needs are not only able to find jobs, they are able to excel in the workplace.
Here are three things a person with special needs can do to help themselves land a job.
Ask for Help
Seeking out a counselor or a professional who specializes in this field is a great idea to begin the search for employment. John Keating, owner of Strategic Staffing Works, an agency that helps families with everything that they need to start the search for employment for individuals with disabilities, says “Somebody that has a history and training in this area can bring awareness to an individual’s situation and help place them in the right occupation.” The search to find a job can be exhausting and professionals are there to help. “Typically the families I work with have been looking for jobs for their children for months or years, most of them not knowing what direction to go in. One of the first things I have to explain to my clients is that finding the job is not the hard part. The type of job is the part that takes most of the time, once you figured that out the rest is a lot easier,” says Keating. Also, a professional can provide objective guidance, where someone like a parent, cannot. Companies like Strategic Staffing not only help place individuals with special needs in jobs, but also guide them and help develop a special set of skills one needs to get hired. “Professionals that have experience with people with disabilities know how to empower them by setting clear expectations.” says Keating.
Making connections is key to any job search and is especially so for a person with special needs. Parents can ask friends, neighbors, and relatives of any available opportunities for their child. It’s also important to surround yourself real life references, says Keating. A job like data entry or being self employed are some great career choices. Same goes for volunteering; if your child enjoys reading, volunteering at a local library is a great way to help them practice for a job, it will also get them some great references, too. “It’s important to surround yourself with real life employment situations so you can up your own game in finding employment,” says Keating. Having a disability shouldn’t limit your network; in fact it should grow it. Many employers want to learn about inclusive hiring practices and how they may benefit from it. It’s a two way street!
Keating also suggests something called “raising your reference point.” Often times expectations of people with disabilities or learning issues are low, but that shouldn’t necessarily be the case. If a person with disabilities is expected to aspire to a high-paying job, often times they will, Keating says. When your surroundings are elevated, and the support is there, the opportunity to achieve more is there.
Develop a Strategy
It’s simply not enough to have your skills and your network in place; you need to create a plan for the future. Places like Strategic Staffing work with your child to develop a plan for employment, ultimately landing your child a good-paying job that aligns with his interests, abilities, and availability in the competitive job market. One example of a way someone with disabilities can be gainfully employed is through a business within a business model, says Keating. In the past Keating has helped individuals gain autonomous employment by setting up smaller business within larger ones. For instance, one of his past clients started selling shoes at a tuxedo shop, or another example is selling baked goods out of a well- established coffee shop. Companies such as Strategic Staffing can help you and your child development a plan around gaining employment and keeping employment. With all the goals that your child can possibly have autonomy should be close to the top!