Finding the right job is hard work and typically takes time and energy, and patience. Each job search strategy should be unique, and should go beyond just looking at openings on-line and in the newspaper.

Career planning (link back to section) should already have produced a list of what is most important to the job seeker in a job. Thinking about what the job seeker values in advance results in a greater chance of finding a well-suited job:

  • geographic location
  • wages and benefits
  • independence, respect
  • amount and style of supervision
  • opportunities to learn
  • environment, work culture
  • job structure

How does the job seeker find employers and jobs?

Vary job search strategies. Internet job boards and newspaper ads are well-known methods, but may not be as successful as face-to-face contacts.

  • Networking really works. Known and new people can be valuable sources of information about jobs.  One never knows what will lead to a great opportunity!
  • Arrange and attend informational interviews to ask questions about jobs or workplaces of interest, and to expand network contacts. People usually like to talk about themselves and what they do.
  • Be flexible and creative about possible jobs.  Consider all ideas.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Seek out support and advice from family and friends.
  • One Stop Career Centers (link) can provide assistance with job seeking skills, resume development, job interviewing, etc.
  • Breaking the job search down into a series of small, workable tasks can make the process much more manageable. One way to keep tasks in order is to create a 30-Day Placement Plan.

The following brief provides a placement plan form, along with instructions about how to use it: The 30-Day Placement Plan: A Road Map to Employment.

How should a job seeker present him or herself to an employer?

Differences in communication and social interaction styles among people with ASD can make job search activities such as interviews and applications difficult. Consider the following strategies:

  • Obtain interview questions and practice in advance
  • Ask for assistance from employment provider staff or other person when taking computer-based personality tests (now required by a growing number of employers)
  • Create / compile a portfolio, a self-marketing tool showcasing experience, skills, strengths, and potential. This can contain photos, drawings, work samples, certificates, awards, references, etc.
  • Ask for alternatives to traditional interviews, such as less formal tour format, or a job try-out.

Where can the job seeker find professional assistance?

Individualized job placement services for job seekers, including people with ASD, are available from State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, and Community Rehabilitation Providers.

What if the job seeker doesn’t fit or feel comfortable with the jobs (s)he is seeing out there?

It can often be a challenge to fit into pre-existing job openings. Perhaps a job seeker is not able to multitask, needs a highly structured environment, or can sustain work activity for only several hours at a time.  The following are specialized strategies to be used with the help of an employment provider or professional.  Employment providers are skilled in business engagement, marketing job seekers, and negotiating jobs with employers.

Customized Employment is a flexible process based on an individualized match between the strengths, conditions and interests of a job candidate and the identified business needs of an employer. Customized Employment uses an individualized approach to employment planning and job development – one person at a time…one employer at a time. This approach will often involve the following strategies:

  • Job Sharing – when two or more workers share the tasks and responsibilities of one job.
  • Job Carving – when tasks are identified in a job description, which match the distinct skills and needs of the job seeker. A job is then “carved” out of one or more existing job descriptions.  For instance, a worker is hired in an office to do only copying and filing duties.
  • Job Creation – when a new position is developed, where none had previously existed. The professional discovers an unmet employer need, which matches the job seeker’s skills.  For instance, a new role is created for a mail delivery clerk at a business where personnel used to pick up mail from a central location.  While a good solution for some, note that job creation can take a long time to identify and negotiate.
  • Self-Employment – is when an individual works for him or herself instead of as an employee of another person or organization, drawing income from a trade or business. Related to self-employment is Resource Ownership, or the Entrepreneurial Model, which entails developing a “business within a business.” This can involve someone bringing his or her own equipment into a place of business to offer a service (such as car detailing within a car wash, or offering computer activities within a nursery school). Find more information about self-employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

For more information about the job search strategies highlighted here, consult the publications below, available online:

The following two books are good resources on job development and business marketing techniques for employment providers, and can be purchased at the websites provided:

Date posted: May 22, 2012. Content created by The Institute for Community Inclusion at University of Massachusetts Boston. Last updated: October 8, 2012.

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