One of the biggest challenges for anyone starting in the field of supported employment or working in Supported Internships may well be employer engagement, understanding the local market and trying to locate suitable jobs. Where are the job opportunities? In fact, before we’ve had success it may feel like we have a mountain to climb and this is why we need to think about marketing.
We need to consider what employers want, they advertise a job because they need someone to solve a problem. And what about the person they are looking for? I’m sure when you take a brief moment to think about it, you come up with list of characteristics not too different from these: Trustworthiness, Attendance, Good Presentation, Productivity, Precision, Work related Knowledge Social skills & Fitting in with the team. Your client may well have any number of these attributes, that you can successfully market to a potential employer.
If you have belief in the above or not, the task is still not easy and to accomplish anything we can’t work in isolation, we can’t know everything about all employment situations, so linking in with partner organisations and charities is a must. They will have local knowledge and ways of gathering info that will be instrumental in concentrating efforts on those needs pinpointed by your client.
Each client will require a highly personalised approach, based on the types of factors considered in the vocational profile, locality, area of work, working conditions. So, from here you can proceed to fact-finding about the specifics of a given organisation. The marketing process involves job matching as you are attempting consider the needs of both the employer and client.
You therefore need to look at developing a flexible structure that can fulfil the requirements of both. As with any job search this requires a practical approach… consider the needs of the employer’s and how the client’s skills will fit into that organisation. Vocational profiling and the job analysis are both vital!
Under normal circumstances, when helping match someone to a job you may put them together and … disco employment harmony your work is done! However Supported employment is an ongoing commitment and so must be your arrangements with any employer. Any number of challenges may rear up and we must be responsive to them and able to adapt with and on behalf of the client. You will catalyse the success of your client ensuring they fulfil the clients needs and in doing so, raise the awareness and profile of disability in the workplace. Maybe even expand your network in the process. Always, be clear in your communication and establish trust.
Your message needs to be clearly outlined to all parties. As with any good marketing campaign you may well need resources promotional materials information about the benefits of employing a person with a disability these can be distributed in a large number of ways, new and old. However, establishing trust and confidence is key. Consider also advertising the benefits your service can have, such as job coaches trained in TSI. It’s also important to recognise any limitations on resources so you don’t under-deliver we must always be available if needed and fade away if not. Our marketing efforts should remember that we’re striving for a natural fit with differences and a workplace adjustments kept to a minimum.
Take the time to gather feedback from all those you work with this will help to build a good reputation of credibility and trust, I can’t overstate how important the above really is. Supported Interships such as Project SEARCH allow a natural rapport. Supported employment/Internships are based upon partnerships this can be achieved in systematic way – keeping a contact list updated and regularly meeting be aware of national employers and initiatives that may be of benefit to your situation. make use of of advocates of your service to promote the good work you do
A time may come when a tension develops between the need to secure employment and the need to maintain a good reputation, my advice would be not to sacrifice the latter, no opportunity is worth breaking those bonds which may well be impossible to repair.
Having a belief in your abilities is important but don’t over emphasise their impact the business will natural support systems and many are involved in equality. Rely on the employer as much as possible. You may not be the type of person who believes in self-marketing or publicity, however this may be important. Publicise your successes in the employment field. Develop good relationships at all levels in the organisations, where possible consider recognising achievement with effective publicity .
Remember you’re assisting the employer to provide quality staff and helping to bring out their potential. You may well benefit their employment policy with other factors such as disability awareness training. Hopefully an agreement will be reached and a job analysis can be started if not then resume job-finding don’t forget to make the process transparent to your client following the themes of inclusion and self-determination.