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Shared Responsibility: Job Search Practices from the Consumer and Staff Perspective

Research to Practice 2


Originally published: 5/1996

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This study was conducted as part of the Center on Promoting Employment: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center. Staff and consumers from a national sample of community rehabilitation providers and independent living centers were surveyed to gain a better understanding of effective job search practices. The correlation between these practices and traditional (e.g., hours worked, wages) and non-traditional employment outcomes such as social relationships at work and satisfaction with work were analyzed.


A multi-level approach was implemented to obtain the perspective of both staff and individuals with disabilities (consumers). Three hundred and sixty nine staff completed a survey which asked for job search information for the last consumer assisted in obtaining employment. Consumers for whom staff provided information were also asked their perspective regarding the job search. One hundred and ninety one consumers completed this separate survey. Both the staff and consumer surveys requested information on job search practices, job description, and consumer/family involvement. Consumers were also asked to report on job satisfaction, job search support and how the obtained job equated with job preferences.



The majority of consumers reported being "very satisfied" with assistance received in finding a job. This satisfaction was not impacted by their own level of involvement in the job search. The most frequently cited type of support received from friends and family were ideas about the type of work they could perform, suggestions about where to look for a job and in providing transportation. The majority of consumers rated their own performance as "very good," reported overall job satisfaction, and would like to stay in their current job for more than five years. Areas reported as less satisfactory included pay, fringe benefits and opportunities for advancement. Consumers with sensory impairments and physical disabilities tended to work more hours and earn higher wages as compared to consumers with mental retardation and mental illness. Individuals who were more satisfied with the assistance they received in the job search reported greater satisfaction with the job itself. Finally, when the obtained job was a closer match to the elements identified as important to the consumer in the job search, greater job satisfaction was reported.

Demographic information reported by staff and consumers is summarized in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1: Staff Demographics


Highest Level of Education % of Staff
High School 11
Some College 26
Bachelor's Degree 40
Master's Degree 21

Length of Time on Job

Years % of Staff
Less than 1 year 18
1-3 33
3-5 15
More than 5 years 34

Time Spent on Job Search

Median Range
Number of Weeks 5 weeks 1-104 weeks
Number of Hours 18 hours 1-350 hours

Table 2: Consumer Demographics


Disability % of Consumers
Mental Retardation 48
Mental Illness 20
Physical Disability 15
Sensory Impairment 6
Other 11

Length of Time on Job

Months % of Consumers
2-4 18
4-6 20
6 months-1 year 31
More than 1 year 24

Job Descriptors

Median Range
Wage $5.00 $1.65-$20.00
Hours Worked 25 1-40


When rating job search practices on use and effectiveness in assisting consumers obtain employment, staff reported positively on the use of counseling, resume development, informal discussion of vocational interests and goals, matching the consumer to the job and making repeated contact with companies. Practices that were used infrequently or viewed by the staff as not being effective included public relations events for the agency, hosting a business advisory group, hosting a job fair, or offering to have the consumer on the agency payroll instead of the employer payroll. Staff reported that the majority of consumers were "somewhat" to "very involved" in the job search. Only 25% of consumers' families were viewed as being involved in any aspect of the job search. Staff found it effective to provide job related supports, assess employer satisfaction with staff services and to meet with the consumer outside of the work place.

The following five patterns of job search activities that typically occurred together were identified through factor analysis, along with sample practices that defined the pattern.

Generic / Not Individually Focused

ICI: promoting inclusion for people with disabilities