Lead job-seeking campaigns with client strengths – too much to ask?

Most of us know what kind of job we’d enjoy, and what we’re good at. Nobody has a better handle on your interests, skills and experience than you do, right?

Imagine you are actively seeking work, yet no one ever asks you to produce a CV. Worse, you find that someone has created their own negative version, focusing on what they think you can’t achieve. And this is supposed to be a tool that will help you find employment!

All too often we see disability employment services carry out generic assessments that simply provide a professional opinion about what their job seeker is not capable of achieving. There’s not much point in that.

Think about it. Most people with a disability know very well what they can’t do – they’ve been told many times. This creates the Golem effect: a psychological phenomenon in which lower expectations placed upon individuals lead to poorer performances. The effect on job seekers’ confidence, motivation and employment outcomes can be devastating.

A quality employment service will lead job-seeking campaigns with their client’s strengths.

Asset-based vocational assessment is quite simple and looks the same for mainstream job seekers as it does for people with a disability. Looking for what clients will be good at sets up a genuine enthusiasm for, interest in and commitment to finding the right job for each person. Immediately both the job seeker and their employment service staff are engaged in the process because decisions are based on a set of strengths, avoiding the negatives.

We shouldn’t be naïve about job seekers’ limitations – they can be highly relevant. Equally though, we need to be aware of the limitations that certain work may impose on an individual. It’s about making the best matches, and aiming as high as possible. Isn’t that what employment services are for?

Sometimes we need to work a little harder to get to know the job seeker. We can learn more by speaking to people who know them and by taking the time to build trust. Many job seekers need to feel safe in order to articulate what they are looking for, what they really dream of doing.

When we focus on matching ability and aspiration to opportunity, we can’t go wrong.

- Martin Wren