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Help! Where do I find a job? Successful job restructuring strategies

John Nietupski has 13 years of experience working with large and small business. As director of the Iowa CEO Corporate Initiative, he assisted banks, hospitals, manufacturers, retailers, newspapers, and other firms hiring over 500 people with severe disabilities. Dr, Nietupski is a proponent of the business approach to job development. This two customer approach values the needs and interests of both people with disabilities and potential employers in the community. By following a step-by-step approach, employer needs are identified and potential employees with disabilities are recommended to fill restructured positions.

The steps involved in this process, once a person centered career vision has been developed, include the following:

  1. Research businesses that match the career vision and target companies to approach;

  2. Contact employers using referrals and/or cold calls;

  3. Conduct employer survey to identify business needs and interest in supported employment;

  4. Conduct job site survey to identify duties and work climate compatibility;

  5. Develop hiring proposal; and

  6. Present hiring proposal and obtain a hiring decision.

Conducting research is an important step in learning about the businesses in your area. The employment specialist should research the business to gather publicly available information before the initial meeting with an employer. Good sources of information include:company web site, local Chamber of Commerce, local Library, and networking.

Third party referrals involves using advocates that encourage employers to meet with the job developer. Advocates are generally well established and respected in the local business community. If no referrals are available, cold calls will be required.

Employer Survey
The employer survey is a process of learning about a particular business in the community. A short meeting, of approximately 20 minutes, should be scheduled with the employer to gain information about their company. The information gathered in the research process should be used in order to demonstrate knowledge of the employers business.

During the initial meeting with the employer, the employment specialist asks questions to uncover an employer's needs and discuss the potential benefits of the employment service in meeting those needs. The employer should be talking approximately 80% of the time! When needs are identified the employment specialist should confirm the employer's interests in having that need met by an employee with a disability. Dr. Nietupski refers to this as a trial close. It is a question that seeks clarification of the need and the agreement on the potential solution. An example of a trial close would be, "Would it benefit your company if someone were hired to maintain that database?" It is important to note that the purpose of this meeting is not to get a job, but to identify an employer's needs and schedule a job site survey to gather information about potential restructured positions.

Job Site Survey
The purpose of the job site survey is to identify specific duties for a supported employee to perform. An employment specialist will also gain valuable information about the company's work climate, performance expectations, and potential workplace supports. While visiting the job, he/she will talk to the employer and their employees to clarify specific tasks that, if completed, would benefit the company. These may include tasks that are not completed on a regular basis, tasks that require overtime to complete, or marginal tasks that are performed by highly paid employees. Probing questions are asked to determine the benefits of the job restructure.

Hiring Proposal
The hiring proposal is a tool that, when presented to businesses, enhances the credibility of the employment service and of the potential employee with a disability. The proposal contains the following elements:

  • a brief background of supported employment as a personnel service;

  • outline of benefits identified by the employer;

  • proposed duties or positions;

  • candidate description;

  • hours, wage, and cost projections; and

  • implementation time line.

The outline removes the element of surprise and provides a vehicle for discussion about the restructured position. The employer can use the proposal to make an informed decision about hiring the new employee and the employment specialist can use it to clarify employer benefits.

Presenting the Proposal
Presenting the proposal to the employer is the final step in the restructuring process. It is important to ensure that the decision makers are present at the time of the meeting so that the employment specialist and the potential employee can expect a yes or no decision. Each element of the proposal should be reviewed with an employer to address potential concern areas. The employment specialist should ask clarification questions to ensure that these concern areas can be addressed. Adjustments can be made to the proposal at this time if they are acceptable to the proposed employee. The employment specialist should also confirm a time line with the employer to ensure a smooth transition into employment. At the close of the meeting, the employment specialist should obtain a hiring decision from the employer.

This method of job restructuring has been extremely effective for Dr. Nietupski and his colleagues. It assumes that the employment specialist has identified the needs, interests, and abilities of the job seeker with a disability, as well as the needs and interests of the employer. The job should be restructured with these requirements in mind.

For More Information Contact:

John Nietupski
Grant Wood Area Education Agency
4401 Sixth Street SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-4499
Voice (319) 399-6442